Chinese officials have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from China Eastern Airlines Flight MU-5735, and despite the violence of the crash they said it’s “relatively intact” and they’re hopeful it will yield data. “This will provide important evidence as to the cause of the accident,” Zhu Tao, director of the Office of Aviation Safety at the Civil Aviation Authority of China, told reporters at a briefing. Although communications between the crew and air traffic control were normal until just before the crash, they stopped when the aircraft went into a vertical dive from 29,000 feet, recovered briefly and resumed the high-speed dive into mountainous terrain in southern China on Monday. None of the 132 people aboard the Boeing 737-800 survived.
The flight data recorder has not been recovered but investigators are particularly interested in the CVR because of the sudden radio silence. In addition to radio calls, the CVR captures crew-only communications and ambient noise, including engine sounds. Meanwhile, bad weather and the utter destruction of the aircraft are hampering search efforts. Crews had to pump water out of the crater left by the plunging aircraft and the surrounding steep terrain is overgrown and muddy. Bank cards, IDs and wallets have been found as have some human remains.