Investigators continue to recover significant aircraft components from the crashed China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800, though the jet’s flight-data recorder has yet to be found. 

At a daily briefing on 25 March, Chinese civil aviation officials say rescuers have located the aircraft’s engine gearbox, as well as parts of the main landing gear. 

China Eastern 2

Source: Xinhua

Rescue personnel at the MU5735 crash site

It comes a day after rescuers pulled out what is believed to be an engine component from the crash site. 

The fifth day of search and rescue efforts was marked by a series of false alarms: earlier in the morning, a news site linked to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) alerted that the aircraft’s flight-data recorder had been recovered. Within an hour, the social media post was removed, with state media reporting that the recorder had not been found. 

Then in the afternoon, rescuers uncovered two orange objects - initially thought to be the recorder - from the deepest point of the crash site. 

However, officials later ascertained the objects were not the flight-data recorder. 

Investigators have already recovered the aircraft’s cockpit-voice recorder, which was severely damaged, and has been since sent to Beijing for analysis. 

On 21 March, the aircraft (B-1791) was operating service MU5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou when it crashed over 1h after departure. The aircraft, which was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew, was flying at an altitude of around 30,000ft when it plunged abruptly to ground level.

The incident is China’s worst air disaster in more than a decade, and has prompted the CAAC to implement a two-week, sector-wide safety probe. 

Separately, officials have also refuted rumours that the aircraft’s flightcrew sent out a radio transponder code 7500 - the international transponder squawk for a hijacking. 

The aircraft had maintained “regular communication” with air traffic control until it lost contact moments before the crash, the CAAC says.