China Eastern crash: engine parts but no FDR

Investigators have expanded the scope of their search around the crash site flight MU5735 of the airline China Eastern Airlinesafter the discovery of a large wreckage 14 kilometers from the crash site. Pieces of engine was also recovered, but there is no news about the other black box, the flight data recorder (FDR). The airline also has grounded its 223 Boeing 737-800.

While the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) found on Wednesday was sent to Beijing for analysis, the investigation continues to find out what happened to the Boeing 737-800 from the Chinese company that crashed on Monday with 132 people on boardduring a flight between Kunming-Changshui and the airport of Guangzhou-Baiyun. Chinese Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) announced on 24 March 2022 that a wreckage of the unit, 1.3 meters long and about 10 centimeters wide, was found in a field, about 14 kilometers from the point of impact and less than 3 kilometers from the last position of the aircraft at its altitude crossing. Nothing can say why or when this debris came loose from 737-800, and the regulator recalls that most of the debris was within a radius of 30 meters around the collision, not far from the city of Wuzhou. .

This is also where the first identified pieces of engine, by one of the CFM56 that equipped the single aisle. Some suggest that the debris above may be part of the motor housing, which only study will be able to confirm. According to Zhu Tao, head of the CAAC Aviation Security Bureau quoted by Xinhua, ” a total of 183 pieces of the wreck, remains of victims and 21 objects belonging to the victims were found and handed over to investigators.

The local press also revealed the names of three pilots present during the fatal flight: Captain Yang Hongda had 6,709 flight hours, First Officer Zhang Zhengping had 31,769 flight hours (supervisor) and second officer Ni Gongtao had flown 556 hours, China Eastern did not confirm these allegations.

China Eastern Airlines and its subsidiaries have temporarily grounded that 223 Boeing 737-800 of their fleets, for “radical security inspections”, with all their other aircraft (including 52 737-700) remaining in operation. According to its spokesman Liu Xiaodong, 737-800s are subject to ” inspected and maintained to the highest safety standards to ensure that they meet airworthiness requirements; “. Yesterday morning, 305 family members of 56 passengers on board the crashed plane arrived in the city of Wuzhou, with more than 200 relatives of the victims traveling to the scene of the accident.

Finally, we will preserve the doubts expressed by NTSB Americans, invited as Boeing, FAA and CFM to participate in the investigation, about the possibility of sending investigators on the spot, due to the difficulties in entering the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Remember that none of the 123 passengers and 9 crew members on flight MU5735 survived. China Eastern 737-800 (LN 41474 registered B-1791), configured to accommodate 12 passengers in Business class and 150 in Economy, was delivered in June 2015; he had operated nearly 18,000 flight hours on more than 9,000 flights. According to the website Flightradar24, the plane dropped nearly 21,250 feet (6,477 meters) in just one minute before disappearing from radar screens. Then, after a brief ascent, it dived again, 4,625 feet (1,410 meters), to be 3,225 feet (983 meters) from the ground, before disappearing from the radar screens again after 6 p.m. 14.22 local time.

The crash of flight MU5735 is in any case worst in China Eastern Airlines history, whose last fatal accident dates back to 2004 (a uniced Bombardier CRJ200 crashed after takeoff in Baotou, 53 dead plus two on the ground), and the third worst in the history of Chinese civil aviation (the last accident involving victims in China goes back to 2010, 44 died out of the 96 people aboard a Henan Airlines Embraer 190). It is also the first to be piloted by a passenger plane in the world since January 2021.

Boeing 737-800 involved in the accident (B-1791), pictured here in August 2015 @ Wikipedia / Kelvin Yu

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