China Eastern resumes Boeing 737-800 flights after March crash

Adds statement of China Eastern in paragraphs 2 and 3

BEIJING, April 17 (Reuters)China Eastern Airlines 600115.SS began returning its Boeing 737-800s to commercial service less than a month ago after a crash killed 132 people and grounded 223 aircraft, the carrier said on Sunday.

The airline said it had carried out systematic tests, structural checks and verified airworthiness data for each of the planes, and that test flights would be carried out on all planes before commercial services resumed.

Boeing 737-800s with registration numbers close to the one that crashed on March 21 are still undergoing maintenance and evaluation, the company told Reuters in a statement.

Data from Flightradar24 showed earlier today that China Eastern Flight MU5843, operated by a three-year-old Boeing 737-800, took off from the southwestern city of Kunming on Sunday at 09:58 ( 01:58 GMT) and landed at 11:00 a.m. :03 am in Chengdu, also in southwest China.

The plane, which made a test flight on Saturday, then returned to Kunming, according to Flightradar24.

Another Boeing 737-800 made a test flight early Sunday in Shanghai, where China Eastern is based, data from Flightradar24 showed.

On March 21, flight MU5735, which was en route from Kunming to Guangzhou, crashed in the mountains of Guangxi and killed 123 passengers and nine crew members in the deadliest air disaster in mainland China in 28 years. .

China recovered the two black boxes and said it would submit a preliminary report to the United Nations aviation agency, ICAO, within 30 days of the event.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Helen Popper)

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