China: Black boxes of crashed jet are severely damaged

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China’s aviation authority said on Wednesday the black boxes of a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 jet that crashed last month were badly damaged and it was still recovering and analysing the data to help determine the cause.

The accident, China’s first fatal accident since 2010, killed 132 people.

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In a statement on its preliminary report of the crash, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) did not release any information from the recorders that were sent to Washington for analysis, Reuters reported.

The CAAC stated that the crew was qualified, the plane was well maintained and the weather was good when flight MU5735, bound from Kunming to Guangzhou, plunged from cruising altitude and crashed in the Guangxi mountains last March 21.

The last normal air traffic controllers’ call to the plane came at 14:16 local time while it was at 29,200 feet, less than five minutes before the plane began to deviate from its normal trajectory as tracked by controllers in Guangzhou, according to the CAAC statement.

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At 2:21 p.m., the last information recorded on radar before the signal disappeared indicated the plane was at an altitude of 11,100 feet, a ground speed of 1,010 km per hour and a heading of 117 degrees.

The latest data from flight-tracking website FlightRadar24, recorded nearly a minute later, indicated the plane was at an altitude of 3,225 feet, a ground speed of 376 miles per hour and a heading of 87 degrees.

The CAAC said it had completed the preliminary report, which by international standards must be submitted to the United Nations aviation agency, ICAO, within 30 days. The final report could take a year or more to complete.