The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) told China’s state-run daily Global Times on Wednesday (18), that it has confirmed with staff from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) participating in the investigation into the crash of China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735, that they have not released any information about the investigation, refuting previous foreign media reports about the cause of the fatal crash.

The NTSB itself also told the Global Times that it assisted the CAAC in the investigation but does not comment on investigations led by other authorities, and all information related to the investigation will be released by the CAAC.

Following these official responses, Chinese civil aviation industry analysts criticized the U.S. media reports as unprofessional and causing unnecessary interference in the ongoing investigation.

«Such unfounded reports amount to cruel defamation against China,» the analysts noted, according to the Chinese website.

Intentional dive

According to our media partner Aeroin, the swift response from CAAC and the NTSB came shortly after the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing «sources close to the investigation,» that the plane «black box points to an intentional nosedive.»

CAAC said that the investigation department has invited the US NTSB as an investigator from the country where the aircraft was designed and manufactured. Regarding the progress of the investigation, CAAC said that the accident investigation department is conducting identification, classification and inspection of debris, analysis of flight data, experimental verification, and other related work in accordance with investigation procedures.

In response to a question about the MU-5735 accident investigation, China’s Foreign Ministry said the CAAC said it will continue to maintain close contact with all parties involved in the investigation and will release information quickly and accurately.

«Foreign media speculation is really out of step with common sense,» Qiao Shanxun, secretary-general of the Expert Committee of the Henan Aviation Industry Association, told the Global Times.

Qiao cited the rules of the International Civil Aviation Convention, saying that states should not disclose, publish, or give access to a draft report or any part of it, or any documents obtained during the investigation of an accident or incident, without the express consent of the state conducting the investigation, unless such reports or documents have already been published or disclosed by the latter state.

«This type of behavior by relevant parties in the US, whether intentional or not, violates the convention, as only the CAAC has the right to publish any relevant information about the outcome of the investigation,» he said. «Such reports are an unnecessary interference in the investigation of the accident.»

Rumors

The US media reports come as aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which manufactured China Eastern’s plane, is on shaky ground in China and around the world due to two crashes of its Boeing 737 MAX.

Before the China Eastern Airlines plane crash, the biggest problem facing Boeing came from the 737 MAX, Boeing had delivered only 157 aircraft in 2020 (806 in 2018 and 380 in 2019), causing its production to fall to the lowest level in nearly 50 years while facing direct competition from Europe’s Airbus, according to the Seattle Times.

Bloomberg reported that Boeing’s largest airline customer in China removed more than 100 of the U.S. manufacturer’s 737 MAX jets from its near-term fleet plans, citing uncertainty over deliveries. China Southern Airlines President Ma Xulun said at a briefing with investors last week that Boeing’s best-selling aircraft would be excluded from fleet deliveries through 2024.

China is Boeing’s second largest market after the US. China currently owns 15 percent of the world’s civilian aircraft, a figure that is expected to reach 18 percent by 2037, the company wrote on its website. Over the next 20 years, China will need 7,690 new aircraft with a total value of $1.2 trillion, making it the only $1 trillion civil aircraft market in the world.

However, considering that the cause of the plane crash has not yet been clearly determined, China Eastern Airlines on April 17 conducted a flight with a Boeing 737-800 plane after a month of the crash, and gradually resumed using the aircraft.

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