Beijing still seeking answers a year after China Eastern plane crash

China’s aviation regulator announced on Monday that they are continuing to investigate the cause of the China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS) Flight MU5735 crash, which occurred nearly a year ago and resulted in the tragic death of all 132 individuals aboard.

The Boeing 737-800 BA.N, which had been in disaster aviation for 28 years, crashed in March 2022 in the mountainous region of Guangxi in southwestern China, resulting in the deadliest incident in the country.

On the eve of the anniversary, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a three-paragraph statement that provided little detailed information and no data from the so-called black boxes of the plane, which offered clues about its sudden plunge from cruising altitude.

The CAAC stated that experts had examined over 100 wreckage items, and the investigation is continuing in a thorough manner due to the complexity and extreme rarity of the accident.

Following this, the technical investigation team will continue to carry out work such as verification, experiments, and analysis in a timely manner to release relevant information and progress the investigation accordingly.

If it is not possible to publish an interim statement detailing the progress of the investigation and identifying any safety issues, the International Civil Aviation Organization requires countries probing plane crashes to make a final report available publicly within 12 months of the anniversary.

Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor of industry publication FlightGlobal, mentioned that while other Asian countries typically published one-year reports that consisted of dozens to hundreds of pages of detailed analysis, the brevity of the CAAC’s one-year statement was considered unusual.

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“The aim is not to assign fault, but instead to enhance the safety regulations of the sector as a whole,” he stated.

After the tragic MU5735 airplane accident, both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder of the aircraft were retrieved and analyzed.

The data from this equipment should have provided detailed insights into the conditions in the cockpit and the aircraft at the time of the crash.

A COUPLE OF YEARS OR LONGER

The travelers and the contents of the aircraft, air traffic control, and previous inquiries had concentrated on the performance of crucial elements prior to the accident, according to the statement from the Chinese regulatory authority.

In May 2022, two individuals were informed about the matter by Reuters. Investigators were examining the actions of the flight crew on the flight deck, looking into the crash without any evidence of a technical malfunction.

The CAAC stated at that moment, in response to online rumors of an intentional crash, that the public was seriously deceived and the accident investigation work was disrupted.

A final report into the causes of the crash could take two years or more to compile, Chinese officials said last year.

Boeing refused to provide a statement and China Eastern did not promptly reply to a request for commentary.

The weather conditions on board were both treacherous and pleasant, and the jet was properly maintained. The crew members were highly qualified. The preliminary summary of last year’s report analyzed the black boxes of the jet, but it did not provide any indication of the investigation’s focus.

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Despite rising political tensions between the two countries, China supported the move by Washington to send the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a U.S. Laboratory.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated on Monday that it still backs the investigation led by China.

Jennifer Homendy, the Chair of the NTSB, stated, “We obtained the necessary information. Our investigators traveled to China. Throughout the inquiry, the organization has maintained a highly effective collaborative partnership with China.”

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