Investigators trying to figure out why a Boeing Co. 737-800 plunged to the ground in China last month could gain key clues within days from the jet’s black boxes, which were sent to the U.S. for analysis.

"I’d expect within a week the investigation team would have the information,” said Neil Campbell, a retired air-safety investigator at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau who worked on the Boeing 737 Max disaster in Indonesia in 2018. "For an accident like this, the recorders are critical.”

The two flight recorders, built to withstand high-speed impacts, have become central to solving the March 21 mystery considering the China Eastern Airlines Corp. flight disintegrated into more than 40,000 pieces when it slammed into a hillside.