China will submit an early investigation report about the recent China Eastern Airlines crash this Wednesday, April 20. A month ago, the flight MU5735 nosedived and slammed into the mountains in Tengxian County, Wuzhou City– killing all 132 onboard.

However, as the South China Morning Post reported on April 19, many air accident experts said this report would only have basic facts, not analyses and conclusions on the reasons for the crash.

Under international rules, a preliminary investigation report needs to be submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) within 30 days of the crash.
According to Joe Hattley, a retired aircraft accident investigator at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Chinese investigators would compile a report based on available verified information, including speed, altitude, radar information, and voice communication with air traffic control.

He added, “The essential thing about a preliminary report is that it has no analysis, no findings, no conclusions, but there may be things like safety recommendations.”
He pointed out that it would be easy to verify electronic data such as audio and radar information from air traffic control. However, he noted, data from the flight recorders – or black boxes – will need to be handed out to specialists to decode.

Warren Chim Wing-nin, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers’ aircraft division, said that the preliminary report could also include other basic information, such as weather on the flight path, the crew’s flight hours, medical certification, and training.

He said that investigation reports would follow a series like this. It would begin with all the known facts, followed by a list of findings based on the facts, the conclusions derived from the findings, a list of causes or probable causes from the conclusions, and finally, the safety recommendations.

He also said that the final report could be 100 or 200 pages long.

Joe Hattley further added that with a crash as large and complex as flight MU5735’s case, it would take one or two years before we know what really happened on a tragic day.

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