President Xi chairs meeting on plane crash emergency response
Preliminary investigation report to be finished within 30 days
Published: Mar 31, 2022 09:16 PM
In a screenshot from a video, staff from national emergency response headquarters and rescue workers mourn the 132 victims of flight MU5735, at the site of the crash in Tengxian county, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on March 27, 2022.Photo:IC

In a screenshot from a video, staff from national emergency response headquarters and rescue workers mourn the 132 victims of flight MU5735, at the site of the crash in Tengxian county, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on March 27, 2022.Photo:IC

The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a meeting on Thursday to hear a report on the emergency response to the China Eastern Airlines plane crash, which took place on March 21.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, chaired the meeting, which made deployments for follow-up work, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

The meeting required those involved to continue to do a good job in sorting out and handing over the remains of the victims, so as to give dignity to the deceased and comfort to their families, and also to carry out accident investigations to find the cause, and to continue to release information so as to actively respond to social concerns.

The meeting also called for a comprehensive safety review across the country to ferret out hidden risks to prevent accidents.

Chinese officials said major on-site investigations of the ill-fated MU5735 have been completed, and the preliminary investigation report will be completed within 30 days after the incident.

As the search and rescue work draws to a close, the investigations have entered the stage where it must find the reasons behind the tragedy and handle the incident's aftermaths. Market insiders predicted that the insurance claims for the 132 people on board could be as much as 300 million yuan ($47 million). 

A preliminary investigation report on the crashed MU5735 will be completed within 30 days of the incident, Zhu Tao, director of the aviation safety office under the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Zhu made the remarks at a press conference near the crash site in Wuzhou, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Thursday, citing regulatory guidelines.

Zhu added that the decoding of the aircraft's two black boxes is still underway.

Industry insiders said the preliminary report, which is generally submitted by the CAAC, includes the time and place of the accident, basic information about the aircraft, flight history, voyage information, casualties, aircraft damage and weather information.

Unlike the final investigation report, most of the preliminary report does not need to wait for the decoding results of the black boxes, nor do they involve the analysis of the cause of the accident, Qiao Shanxun, secretary general of the Expert Committee of Henan Aviation Industry Association told the Global Times on Thursday.

Experts said the final investigation report is more important, for it includes the analysis of the cause. A targeted, timely and comprehensive safety recommendation is also an integral part of the process.

Taking the Sichuan Airlines 5.14 incident investigation report as an example, the final report had 131 pages, including 14 experimental reports. It disclosed the facts, analyses, conclusions, safety recommendations, and safety measures taken, which was evaluated as an "extremely solid and meticulous investigation" by many experts in the civil aviation field.

Market watchers said an important factor affecting the speed of the investigation of the China Eastern aircraft's crash is the degree of damage to the black boxes.

If the data stored on the black boxes is intact, the decoding can be completed in about two weeks. If the damage is severe, the black boxes may need to be returned to the manufacturer for a lengthy repair process, which will make the entire investigation procedure long, said Sheng Hanlin, an associate professor at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

But Qiao warned that even with the decoded data from the black boxes, it's still possible that the truth won't be discovered, given past air crash investigations.

Qiao said that there were 1,157 accidents between 1990 and 2016, but only 62 percent of the crashes resulted in the release of final investigation reports, citing data from the International Civil Aviation Organization. 

As to insurance claims, a manager surnamed Wang from Ping An Insurance told the Global Times that the payout for each passenger on board could be about 2.5 million yuan, including the 400,000 yuan insurance compensation stipulated by civil aviation authorities.

He added that in 2010, the compensation standard for the Yichun air crash was 960,000 yuan per person.

So far, 11 insurance companies have compensated the survivors of the victims, for a total of 14.85 million yuan, the insurance regulator said on Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, the four companies responsible for the insurance of the aircraft's fuselage had paid a total of 116 million yuan in advance to China Eastern Airlines, according to the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission. 

On March 23, PICC Property & Casualty paid compensation of 50 million yuan to China Eastern Airlines.