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A China Eastern Boeing 737-800 in the same livery as the aircraft that crashed in China. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Lei Yan)

Ten Days After the Fatal Crash of China Eastern MU5735, What Do We Know So Far?

On March 21, a China Eastern Boeing 737-800 crashed in mountains near Wuzhou, China. The aircraft, B-1791, was operating flight MU5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou. As of this moment, all 132 passengers and crews onboard were confirmed lost in this tragic accident. Both black boxes, the flight data recorder (FDR) and the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) have been recovered from the crash site. However, the cause of this accident still remains unclear at this time.

The Crew and Aircraft

The aircraft operating MU5735, B-1791, was a Boeing 737-800 delivered to China Eastern in 2015. At the time of the flight, the aircraft only operated 8,986 flights with 18,239 flight hours. China Eastern is one of the largest carriers in China, and the company has rich experience operating this type of aircraft. The carrier maintained a good track record, with no fatal crashes in 18 years.

According to China Eastern, the nine crew members onboard were all highly skilled and experienced. The captain had 6,700 hours of Boeing 737, and the first officer of the day had over 31,000 flight hours in a variety of aircrafts. A flight cadet was also on board as a second officer with 500 flight hours.

China Eastern grounded all of its Boeing 737-800 fleet as a precautionary measure. Other carriers in China are operating the aircraft as usual.

According to the air traffic controller at the time, MU5735 did not send any distress signals between the time it started to dive and crashed into the mountains. The controller noticed the unusual descent and repeatedly called the crew over the radio. However, there was no response.

From The Crash Site

Both black boxes, the FDR and the CVR, have been recovered from the crash site. Officials say that the exterior of both recorders is severely damaged, and they have been sent to experts in Beijing for decoding.

DNA of all 132 passengers and crews were identified from the crash site, along with a handful of their personal belongings. Authorities organized their families to visit the site. Nobody on the ground was injured or killed.

There were no signs of explosives found on the crash site. The evidence shows that the aircraft was likely not brought down by a terrorist attack.

The aircraft was completely disintegrated into pieces because of the severe impact. According to the videos released to social media, the aircraft appeared to be completely vertical just moments before impacting the ground. However, a rare edge of the aircrafts winglet was found 10 kilometers away from the crash site. Experts are trying to use all those clues to paint a picture of what could have caused MU5735 to take a fatal dive.

International Partners

As the manufacturers country, The United States expressed its condolences to the families of the deceased and committed to helping the Chinese authorities to investigate the accident. Air China has dispatched charters in recent days to Washington DC and Seattle. Charters appear to be chartered flights for Boeing and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators. Chinese authority has already issued visas to the NTSB investigators and experts.

Author

  • Lei is from Inner Mongolia, China, and now lives in Guangzhou. He grew up in an aviation family, where his passion began. During his time at Penn State University, he studied Industrial Engineering specializing in operations research, and he graduated with an honor’s thesis on airport gate assignment optimization. Now, he is a Purchasing Manager with Procter & Gamble. In his free time, he enjoys flying, reading, and wandering around the city.

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