US Agency Helps China Download Voice Record of Crashed Jet 


The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that it was assisting Chinese investigators with the download of the cockpit voice recorder from a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 jet as it sent a team of U.S. investigators to China.

The U.S. safety board told Reuters it was helping the Civil Aviation Administration of China “with the download of the cockpit voice recorder from China Eastern Flight 5735 in our lab in Washington.”

China’s decision to send a key piece of evidence to Washington for assistance shows the urgency of the investigation at a time when two nations have been at odds at other issues.

The plane crashed into a mountainside in southern China on March 21, killing all 132 on board, and was mainland China’s deadliest aviation disaster in 28 years. Recovery crews Sunday found the second black box — the flight data recorder — in the wreckage.

The cockpit voice recorder will likely provide investigators with details of communications among the flight’s three pilots, which is one more than is normally required on board the Boeing plane.

NTSB experts to China

Earlier Friday, the NTSB said a team of three investigators had left for China to assist in the crash probe. The NTSB said, “Investigators will limit interactions with those outside of the investigation similar to safety protocols at Beijing Olympics, which will allow them to begin work immediately without a quarantine.”

An NTSB spokesman said the U.S. team was traveling on a commercial flight. It was not clear if the team would travel to the crash site in China, nor was it known how long team would be in China, but it could be several weeks.

The NTSB also said a small team from Boeing was traveling to China to assist in the investigation.

Under an international agreement, the NTSB has the right to participate since the plane was designed and built in the United States.

On Thursday, Chinese state media said the cause of the crash must be determined as soon as possible, following a meeting of China’s highest decision-making body helmed by President Xi Jinping.

Information about the crash must be released in an open, timely and transparent manner, state media said in a report on the meeting of the seven-person Standing Committee of the Communist Party’s Politburo, China’s top leadership.

A nationwide safety inspection should also be launched to prevent as much as possible the occurrence of accidents, state media said. If accidents do happen because of negligence, not only will the personnel in charge be punished, the relevant top officials will also be investigated, state media said.

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