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Investigators will probe what caused one of the safest airplanes to crash in China

Aviation specialists say the jetliner that crashed Monday within the South China mountains was one of many most secure on the earth, which might increase questions on one of many business’s workhorses, the Boeing 737-800 NG.

China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735 crashed within the mountains of southern China, leaving the destiny of its 132 passengers and crew members unknown. Investigators are doubtless to make use of flight recordings and the ultimate minutes of air visitors management communication to find out what triggered the crash.

The airplane misplaced contact over Wuzhou throughout a flight between the southern cities of Kunming and Guangzhou, the airline and the nation’s Civil Aviation Administration stated. The latter is main the investigation.

“They will be looking for the flight data recorder and the voice data recorder from the crash site, because they hold vital information to really know what occurred during the last moments before the aircraft’s descent. That will be important,” stated Hassan Shahidi, the president of the Flight Safety Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes aviation security.

Investigators additionally will delve into the upkeep historical past of the plane and its engine, the current coaching of the flight crew and the pilot’s expertise, he stated.

Shahidi stated investigators additionally will wish to know the communications between the pilot and air visitors management within the minutes main as much as the crash.

Before Monday’s crash, the 737-800 NG, or Next Generation, was thought-about among the many most secure plane in operation. The fleet has recorded solely 11 deadly accidents out of greater than 7,000 planes which were delivered since 1997, based on the aviation consultancy Cirium.

More than 4,200 of the planes are in passenger service, about 17 % of the world’s fleet, based on the group. Of these, there are 1,177 in China. All 4 main U.S. carriers function the plane, Cirium stated.

“The 737 NG has been in operation for 25 years and has an excellent safety record,” stated Paul Hayes, Cirium’s director of air security and insurance coverage.

The 737-800 NG’s current security document seems to face in distinction to that of the Boeing 737 Max 8, which was banned from the skies worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes killed greater than 300 individuals.

Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in October 2018 in Indonesia, killing 189 individuals. Five months later, all 157 individuals aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 died when it crashed shortly after takeoff.

A brand new model of the airplane ultimately returned and accomplished its first U.S. industrial flight in December 2020.

“We’ve been engaged with the FAA, with Boeing, with everybody that’s associated with the aircraft to ensure that safety is held at the highest level,” Robert Isom, the president of American Airlines, stated on the time when the American Airlines flight was set to depart from Miami to New York City, NBC News reported. “This aircraft has been checked out from top to bottom.”

Monday’s crash might renew these security considerations. The National Transportation Safety Board, which has appointed a senior air security investigator to characterize the U.S. within the investigation, stated representatives from Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration and the airplane’s engine maker, CFM, will function technical advisers.

“Our thoughts are with the passengers and crew of China Eastern Airlines Flight MU 5735,” Boeing said in a statement. “We are working with our airline customer and are ready to support them.”

The flight left Kunming at 1:11 p.m. (1:11 a.m. ET), with a scheduled arrival time less than two hours later, according to data from the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24. It showed that the aircraft rapidly lost altitude while it was cruising just over an hour into the flight, descending from 29,000 feet in a matter of minutes to its last tracked position.

Judging by how rapidly the plane dropped, the pilot was no longer in control, said Willie L. Brown Jr., a pilot and associate professor of aviation at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

In addition to dissecting the plane’s history, Brown said, investigators will try to determine what role, if any, the weather and the mountainous region may have played.

“In general, I would try to find out what the structural integrity of the aircraft was,” Brown stated. “It could be anything.”

Experts say it will take some time to figure out what caused the aircraft to go down.

“At this point, it’s really too early,” Shahidi stated. “There are a number of things that might have gone wrong, but the only way to figure it out is through data and information.”

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