Public report promised into China Eastern Airlines crash as rescue mission ends

  • China
  • Saturday, 02 Apr 2022

Chinese aviation authorities have pledged to publish a report on the investigation results of the China Eastern Airlines plane crash within 30 days of the accident.

All rescue missions have been completed, with both black boxes found and all DNA testing of the victims’ relatives concluded, Zhu Tao, aviation safety chief at the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said at a press conference on Thursday.

As of Thursday, more than 40,000 pieces of plane wreckage were found and transferred to storage to be cleaned and investigated.

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Flight MU5735 crashed in a mountainous forest in Teng county, near the city of Wuzhou in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region en route to Guangzhou on Monday afternoon. There were no survivors.

Authorities said on Monday they had identified all 132 passengers and crew through DNA testing. It was China’s worst air disaster in decades.

Zhu said the team’s focus had now shifted to analysis and investigation. Under the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and Chinese aviation regulations, an initial report would be completed within 30 days of the accident.

“We will be objective, scientific and responsible, not miss any suspicious points, to find out the cause of the accident, reveal the truth and prevent similar incidents from happening again,” he said.

Over the past 10 days, search teams have recovered all of the victims’ remains as well as important parts of the plane wreckage, including engine, horizontal stabiliser and the right wingtip.

At the same time, researchers have analysed the crash site, from the surrounding environment, location and distribution of wreckage, to the trail of the impact to identify the plane’s trajectory at the time of the crash.

Data from air traffic control radars has been studied in a bid to recreate the plane’s flight path.

Authorities said they were also checking hand luggage, checked bags and other relevant items on board as part of the investigation.

Zhang Zhiwen, a Guangxi official, said the local government had provided transport, food, accommodation and counselling for families of the victims who travelled to the crash site.

As of Wednesday, local officials had provided help to 695 family members of 102 of the victims, in addition to airline staff. More than 2,900 counselling sessions had been provided to the relatives, who are staying in 24 hotels.

Compensation for the victims’ family also began to flow last week. China’s top insurance regulator called on the industry to make an all-out effort to help with insurance claims.

A total of 21 insurers have launched their own investigations and are taking part in search and rescue operations, according to the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

China has issued visas to investigators from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and technical advisors from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing. The NTSB said on Wednesday the team hoped to depart this week.

Jet engine maker CFM is also a technical adviser to the NTSB as part of the investigation, but would not send representatives to China at this time, the NTSB said on Twitter.

“The NTSB team will not release any information about the investigation as that authority belongs to the Chinese government under ICAO Annex 13,” it added.

China issues visas to US investigators in flight MU5735 crash probe

Zhang Qihuai, a researcher with China University of Political Science and Law’s Centre for Aviation and Space Law, said the NTSB’s participation is in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s policies.

“If they have responsibilities in the follow-up, they should have a positive attitude towards it,” he said. “After they come to China, they should help investigate the cause of the accident, clarify who should take responsibility and make remedies and compensation, that’s their responsibility.”

Zhang said the NTSB could help by providing information on the manufacturing and design of the plane, as well as how to improve the aircraft if any technical errors are found in the investigation.

“They represent Boeing and other US authorities in participating in accident investigation,” he said.

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