China OKs U.S. NTSB travel to take part in Boeing 737-800 crash probe

rescue workers work at the site where a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane flying from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed, in Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) - (This March 29 story corrects to show CFM representatives will not travel to China after NTSB issued revised statement.)

China has issued visas to American investigators and technical advisers to support its investigation into last week's deadly crash of a China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS) Boeing 737-800 in that country, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday.

"The team hopes to depart this week," the NTSB said in a tweet.

In addition to NTSB investigators, China has issued visas to technical advisers from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing Co. (BA.N).

It is still unclear whether the U.S. team will need to quarantine in China under its COVID-19 protocols, the NTSB said, adding that the issue is still under discussion. China has been experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases.

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

The NTSB has been in regular contact with the Civil Aviation Administration of China since the crash. Under an international agreement, the NTSB has the right to participate since the plane was designed and built in the United States.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told reporters on Tuesday he was encouraged by indications that China is following its obligations under that treaty.

"We're ready to go," Dickson said, but added: "We're not over yet -- so that needs to happen." He noted there were ongoing discussions between China and the United States about outstanding issues including China's COVID-19 protocols.

Jet engine maker CFM is a joint venture between General Electric (GE.N) and France's Safran (SAF.PA) and is a technical adviser to the NTSB as part of the investigation. However, representatives from CFM will not travel to China, the U.S. agency said, after saying earlier that they were planning to go.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.