Severely Damaged Black Box Found at Crash Site

It's unclear which of the 2 black boxes searchers have discovered
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2022 6:11 AM CDT
Severely Damaged Black Box Found at Crash Site
Relatives of passengers onboard the China Eastern Flight 5735 arrive near the crash site on Wednesday, in Lu village, southwestern China's Guangxi province.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

A black box has been found at the site where a Chinese Eastern Airlines flight crashed in southern China on Monday—but it's so badly damaged that investigators aren't sure whether it’s the flight data recorder, which logs airspeed, altitude, and pilot actions, or the cockpit voice recorder, which captures sounds. Mao Yanfeng, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of China's accident investigation division, made the announcement Wednesday, per the AP, adding searchers are scouring the site for the other black box in the hope that the pair will reveal what caused the crash, which is presumed to have killed all 123 passengers and nine crew members, including three pilots.

The weather presented no concern as Flight 5735 plummeted to the ground outside Wuzhou in the Guangxi region about an hour after departing Kunming in Yunnan province for Guangzhou on China’s southeastern coast. "The aircrew had maintained normal communication with air traffic control units since the aircraft took off from Kunming until the sudden drop in altitude, according to communication records," Mao said, per the South China Morning Post. An air-traffic controller who saw the plane's altitude drop tried to contact the pilots several times but got no response, Zhu Tao, director of the Office of Aviation Safety at the Civil Aviation Authority of China, said at a Tuesday press conference, per the AP.

Zhu Tao noted the Boeing 737-800 was severely damaged, "making the investigation very difficult." Rain proved another issue Wednesday as it filled the gash left by the impact and created a risk of landslides, per the AP. China Eastern Airlines has grounded its fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft in the aftermath, prompting speculation that there was evidence of a problem with the plane. But an airline rep denied that Wednesday. The grounding "does not mean the model has hidden risks." Rather, "it is an emergency response after a major accident," the man said. He added the three pilots were in good health, "had good conduct and had maintained harmonious relationships with their families," per the Morning Post. (More plane crash stories.)

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