WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is helping Chinese officials download a cockpit voice recorder that was damaged in the mysterious crash of a Boeing Co. 737 jetliner on March 21, the agency said Friday.
The work to decipher the final sounds caught by cockpit microphones on the doomed airplane is being carried out in the NTSB’s lab in Washington, D.C., spokesman Peter Knudson said via email. He declined to discuss how or when the so-called black box was transported to the U.S. lab, which is routinely used by investigators around the world after accidents.
The work is being assisted by technicians from Honeywell International Inc., which made the cockpit recorder, said a person familiar with the effort who asked not to be named discussing the sensitive investigation. The device was damaged in the high-impact crash, Chinese investigators have said.
Separately Friday, teams of NTSB investigators and Boeing technical experts from the U.S. departed for China, underscoring the cooperation between the two nations as they probe the accident, which killed all 132 people aboard.
The investigators will follow similar safety protocols to those used by participants in the Beijing Olympics earlier this year, limiting interactions with those not involved in the probe, NTSB said in a tweet. The measures will allow them to begin working immediately without quarantining. The NTSB didn’t specify the number of people on the team bound for China.
The NTSB, along with technical experts from Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, is assisting the Civil Aviation Administration of China under a United Nations treaty that allows participation from the country where an aircraft was built. The FAA team isn’t traveling at this time, the NTSB said.
China notified the NTSB about the accident involving a China Eastern Airlines Corp. 737-800 the day it occurred, triggering U.S. participation. But restrictions due to COVID-19 delayed travel arrangements, according to earlier NTSB tweets.
The CAAC is leading the investigation. Traditionally in such cases, the NTSB can help search the wreckage for clues about what happened to the plane and assist in obtaining data from the jet’s two black boxes. Both recording devices have been recovered.
China Eastern Flight 5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou was flying at about 29,000 feet when it suddenly dove at high speeds. It slammed into a forested hillside about 100 miles from its destination, according to the CAAC.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.