U.S. investigators arrived Saturday in China to help search for clues about the causes of the crash of the Boeing airliner with 132 people on board, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
A team of seven investigators belonging to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will participate in the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s investigation of the March 21 crash of the China Eastern Airlines jetliner.
The Boeing 737-800 operated by China Eastern Airlines, crashed in the Guangxi ethnic Zhuang autonomous region of southern China. None of the 132 passengers, including passengers and crew, were found alive.
The crash is considered mainland China’s deadliest aviation disaster in 28 years. More than 49,000 pieces of the plane have been recovered, along with some human remains and personal items.
NTSB said Friday that investigators would operate inside a ‘covid-19 bubble,’ without making contact with other people, thus circumventing China’s strict quarantine requirements for foreign visitors.
“NTSB team has departed for China to participate in CAAC’s B-737 accident investigation,” the agency tweeted. “Investigators will limit interactions with those outside of investigation similar to safety protocols at Beijing Olympics, which will allow them to begin work immediately without a quarantine.”
The U.S., in addition, is assisting China with downloading the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, which was found Sunday by rescuers and is now at a lab in Washington, according to Reuters.
The voice recorder is expected to provide details of conversations between the pilots on board the flight. There were three, and explain why the Boeing plummeted from an altitude of about 8,800 meters.
Reuters said that an international agreement empowers the NTSB to participate in the air crash investigation, as the plane was designed and built in the United States.
A Chinese aviation safety official said a preliminary investigation report would be completed within 30 days of the crash.