China Eastern jet deliberately crashed into mountainside, killing 132 on board, flight data suggest

American researchers believe someone on board deliberately crashed a China Eastern flight in March, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, in what was China’s deadliest air disaster in decades.

China Eastern flight MU5375 was en route from Kunming to Guangzhou on March 21 when it inexplicably crashed into a mountainside from a height of 29,000 feet, kill all 132 people on-board.

so-called flight details black box recorders recovered from the site were sent to the United States for analysis.

Plane crash in China
In this photo, released by Xinhua News Agency, search and rescue workers search through debris at the China Eastern flight crash site in Tengxian County in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on March 24, 2022.

Lu Boan / AP

Those records show that someone — possibly a pilot or someone who had forced their way into the cockpit — entered orders to send the Boeing 737-800 into a nosedive, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the probe. .

“The plane did as instructed by someone in the cockpit,” the Journal quoted as quoting “a person familiar with the preliminary assessment of US officials.”

A source told Reuters that investigators were investigating whether the crash was caused by a “voluntary” action involving the crew, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the dive was intentional.

US officials believe their conclusion is supported by the fact that Chinese investigators have so far identified no issues with the aircraft or flight controls that could have caused the crash and should be addressed on future flights, the paper said.

Both the US National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing declined to comment on the investigation to AFP on Tuesday.

According to a report from Boeing, investigators have found no evidence of “anything abnormal,” China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) said in April.

In a statement, the CAAC said staff had met safety requirements before takeoff, the plane was not carrying dangerous goods and did not appear to have entered bad weather, although the agency said a full investigation could take years.

In the immediate aftermath of the crash, China’s ruling Communist Party quickly sprang into action to verify the information, ramping up its censorship machine as media and local residents rushed to the crash site.

It has maintained its firm grip on the story, with the preliminary probe leaving important questions unanswered.

Screenshots of the Wall Street Journal story appeared to have been censored on Wednesday, both on China’s main social media platform and messaging app, Reuters reported.

After the fatal descent near the southern city of Wuzhou, authorities quickly cordoned off a huge area and China’s internet regulator announced it had removed massive amounts of “illegal information” about the crash from China’s tightly controlled web.

A social media hashtag featuring the plane’s flight number was found to be censored.

The crash was the deadliest in China in about 30 years and dented the country’s otherwise enviable flight safety record.

Deliberate crashes of jets are very rare. In 2015 a copilot of Germanwings Deliberately flew a plane into a French mountainside, killing all 150 people on board.

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