JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

China finds first black box from crashed jet, U.S. discussing quarantine for investigators

China finds first black box from crashed jet, U.S. discussing quarantine for investigators

Thursday, March 24, 2022, 09:45 GMT+7
China finds first black box from crashed jet, U.S. discussing quarantine for investigators
An aerial view shows scorched land at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane, flight MU5735, crashed in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, in this still image taken from a drone footage March 23, 2022. Photo: CGTN via REUTERS TV

Chinese emergency workers found on Wednesday one of two black boxes from a China Eastern Airlines plane that crashed with 132 people onboard, but U.S. efforts to join the investigation are on hold because of COVID-19 quarantine rules.

The black box device recovered is the plane's cockpit voice recorder, based on an early assessment, a Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) official told a media briefing, adding that the recording material appeared to have survived impact in relatively good shape.

Flight MU5735 was en route from the southwestern city of Kunming to Guangzhou on the coast on Monday when the Boeing 737-800 jet suddenly plunged from cruising altitude at about the time when it should have started its descent before landing.

The cause of the crash has yet to be determined. Most of the jet appears to have disintegrated upon impact, although some debris and human remains have been found.

Rescuers search for the black boxes at a plane crash site in Tengxian county of Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 22, 2022. A China Eastern Airlines passenger plane, flight MU5735, crashed into the mountainside on Monday. Photo: Zhou Hua/Xinhua via REUTERS

Rescuers search for the black boxes at a plane crash site in Tengxian county of Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 22, 2022. A China Eastern Airlines passenger plane, flight MU5735, crashed into the mountainside on Monday. Photo: Zhou Hua/Xinhua via REUTERS

"An initial inspection showed that the exterior of the recorder has been severely damaged, but the storage units, while also damaged to some extent, are relatively complete," CAAC official Zhu Tao said.

The black box is being sent to an institute in Beijing for decoding, although how long that takes would depend on the extent of the damage, Zhu said.

Weather along the flight path on Monday did not pose any danger to the aircraft and air controllers had communication with it after take-off and prior to its rapid descent, said Mao Yanfeng, head of aircraft investigation at CAAC.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday that Chinese authorities had invited the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to take part in the investigation of the crash, adding that he was very encouraged by the invitation to be on the ground in China.

Plane debris is seen at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 21, 2022. Picture taken March 21, 2022. Photo: cnsphoto via REUTERS

Plane debris is seen at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 21, 2022. Picture taken March 21, 2022. Photo: cnsphoto via REUTERS

The NTSB, however, later said it had not yet determined if investigators would travel to China in light of visa and quarantine requirements.

"We are working with the Department of State to address those issues with the Chinese government before any travel will be determined," the NTSB said.

China has very few COVID cases and strict requirements for at least two weeks of hotel quarantine on arrival for citizens and foreigners. A World Health Organization team that last year investigated the origins of the pandemic had to quarantine first.

The crash investigation is being led by China but the United States is invited to take part because the plane was manufactured there.

Workers install security cameras at the entrance of Lu village near the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 23, 2022. Photo: REUTERS

Workers install security cameras at the entrance of Lu village near the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 23, 2022. Photo: REUTERS

The Chinese authorities have said the plane, which did not respond to repeated calls during its descent, met airworthiness standards before take-off and all three pilots - one more than normally required on a 737 - were in good health.

The captain, hired in January 2018, had 6,709 hours flying experience, while the first and second officers had 31,769 hours and 556 hours, respectively, a China Eastern official said.

"From what we know, the performance of the three pilots had been good and their family life relatively harmonious," the official said.

One co-pilot was an observer to build up experience, the airline said.

People, some of who are believed to be relatives of victims, walk near the entrance of Lu village near the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 23, 2022. Photo: REUTERS

People, some of who are believed to be relatives of victims, walk near the entrance of Lu village near the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 23, 2022. Photo: REUTERS

Extra precautions

China Eastern tightened precautions after the crash, requiring two senior captains and a senior co-pilot on a three-person crew on some aircraft types, state-backed The Paper said.

Heavy rain in southern China on Wednesday hampered the search for victims and black boxes, with wet weather forecast to last the rest of the week.

Grief-stricken relatives visited the site, among them a retiree surnamed Zhang from Shenzhen, whose eyes filled with tears as he told Reuters his nephew was onboard. 

"I hope the country can thoroughly investigate this matter and find out whether it was the manufacturer's fault or it was a maintenance problem," Zhang said.

A drone flies over rescuers working at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane, flight MU5735, crashed in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, in this still image taken from a footage March 22, 2022. Photo: CGTN via REUTERS TV

A drone flies over rescuers working at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane, flight MU5735, crashed in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, in this still image taken from a footage March 22, 2022. Photo: CGTN via REUTERS TV

CAAC has launched a two-week inspection of the sector, involving checks on all regional air traffic control centres, airline companies and flight training institutes to ensure "absolute" safety.

FlightRadar24 data showed the aircraft plunged rapidly at a rate of 31,000 feet per minute.

China has improved air safety over the past two decades, and Monday's disaster was the first major crash in a dozen years.

Rescuers work at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane, flight MU5735, crashed in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, in this still image taken from a footage March 22, 2022. Photo: CGTN via REUTERS TV

Rescuers work at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane, flight MU5735, crashed in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, in this still image taken from a footage March 22, 2022. Photo: CGTN via REUTERS TV

China Eastern and two subsidiaries have grounded their fleet of more than 200 Boeing 737-800 jets. An airline official said the move was more an emergency reaction to the crash rather than a response to any safety issue.

The disaster comes as Boeing is working to recover from several crises, notably safety concerns over its 737 MAX model following two deadly crashes and the impact on travel from the pandemic.

A woman surnamed Liang, 60, takes part in a Buddhist ceremony in honor of the victims in a field close to the entrance of Simen village, near the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 22, 2022. Photo: REUTERS

A woman surnamed Liang, 60, takes part in a Buddhist ceremony in honor of the victims in a field close to the entrance of Simen village, near the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 22, 2022. Photo: REUTERS

Reuters

More

Read more

S.Korea says THAAD missile system is means of self-defence - News1

South Korea's presidential office said on Thursday the U.S. THAAD missile defence system stationed in the country is a means of self-defence, News1 reported, after Beijing demanded Seoul not deploy additional batteries and limit the use of the existing ones

20 hours ago
;

Photos

VIDEOS

‘Taste of Australia’ gala dinner held in Ho Chi Minh City after 2-year hiatus

Taste of Australia Gala Reception has returned to the Park Hyatt Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Vietnamese woman gives unconditional love to hundreds of adopted children

Despite her own immense hardship, she has taken in and cared for hundreds of orphans over the past three decades.

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta celebrates spring with ‘hat boi’ performances

The art form is so popular that it attracts people from all ages in the Mekong Delta

Vietnamese youngster travels back in time with clay miniatures

Each work is a scene caught by Dung and kept in his memories through his journeys across Vietnam

Latest news

S.Korea says THAAD missile system is means of self-defence - News1

South Korea's presidential office said on Thursday the U.S. THAAD missile defence system stationed in the country is a means of self-defence, News1 reported, after Beijing demanded Seoul not deploy additional batteries and limit the use of the existing ones