initial report sheds little light on march china eastern jet crash - Initial report sheds little light on March China Eastern jet crash

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) – Chinese authorities said they need more time to figure out what caused a China Eastern Airlines jet to plunge into a hillside on March 21, killing all 132 passengers and crew.

The two black boxes from the Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft were badly damaged in the crash in southern China and analysis of them is ongoing, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing a preliminary investigation report from the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The crew and maintenance staff involved all met qualification requirements, it said.

Under the Chicago Convention, states in charge of an investigation must submit a preliminary report to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a United Nations agency, within 30 days of the date of the accident.

The short, one page report said the plane entered Guangzhou air traffic space at 2.17pm and that Guangzhou air traffic control then realised it was deviating from the altitude it should have been on.

Air traffic controllers paged the flight deck but received no response, according to the document.

Flight MU5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou fell from the sky about 100 miles from its destination. The last radar recorded from the jet was at 2.21pm, the report showed.

The report’s lack of detail drew immediate reaction on social media in China with netizens expressing their disappointment and frustration.

“Nothing’s useful in there,” said one.

While preliminary reports, which may be marked as confidential or remain public at the investigating state’s discretion, contain some information about what was happening on board at the time of the incident, they generally don’t include any conclusions as to the cause of the crash. A full report is due within 12 months.

The main search and rescue effort in southern China’s Guangxi region ended late last month and the plane’s two black boxes were sent to the US President Xi Jinping called for information about the cause of the crash to come in a timely, accurate and transparent manner, according to earlier Xinhua reports.

A team from the US National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing travelled to China to work on the probe. The US Federal Aviation Administration is also working with the team but hasn’t travelled to China.

The jet was flying level at a cruising altitude of about 29,000 feet (8,842 metres) when it suddenly nosedived, according to preliminary flight-tracking data and Chinese officials. Video images of the plane appeared to show it hurtling toward the ground. Data from Flightradar24 indicated it was travelling far faster than normal. The jet was pulverised on impact.

China Eastern resumed flights using the same type of plane over the weekend, a sign the airline is working toward putting the entire fleet back in the air.

The carrier is gradually restarting operations for its 737-800 fleet after carrying out checks over the past two weeks, China News Service reported, citing company representatives it didn’t identify.