Reports: China Eastern Airlines Jet May Have ‘Intentionally’ Crashed

This photo taken on March 21, 2022, shows paramilitary police officers conducting a search
CNS/AFP via Getty Images

Unverified reports by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Reuters this week suggested a China Eastern Airlines jet that crashed in southern China in March killing all 132 people on board may have “intentionally” nosedived into its fatal descent.

“The Boeing 737-800 was cruising at high altitude when it suddenly pitched into a near-vertical descent, plummeting into a mountain at extreme speed. Data from a black box recovered in the crash suggests inputs to the controls pushed the plane into the fatal dive,” the WSJ reported on May 17, citing unnamed individuals “familiar with U.S. officials’ preliminary assessment of what led to the accident.”

This initial probe “includes an analysis of information extracted from the plane’s damaged flight-data recorder,” according to the newspaper.

“The plane did what it was told to do by someone in the cockpit,” one of the WSJ’s sources alleged.

“The information gathered so far in the China Eastern probe has led U.S. officials involved with the investigation to turn their attention to the actions of a pilot,” people familiar with the matter told WSJ.

TOPSHOT - This photo taken on March 27, 2022 shows rescuers standing in a silent tribute for victims at the site of the China Eastern Airlines plane crash in Tengxian county, Wuzhou city, in China's southern Guangxi region. - The Boeing 737-800 was flying between the cities of Kunming and Guangzhou on March 21 when it nosedived into a mountainside, disintegrating on impact and killing all 132 people on board.

This March 27, 2022, photo shows rescuers standing in a silent tribute for victims at the site of the China Eastern Airlines plane crash in Tengxian county, Wuzhou city, in China’s southern Guangxi region on March 21.(-/CNS/AFP via Getty Images)

“There is also a possibility that someone else on the plane could have broken into the cockpit and deliberately caused the crash,” the individuals added.

Reuters News Agency cited an anonymous source on May 18 as saying, “Investigators were looking at whether the crash was a ‘voluntary’ act involving crew inputs to the controls.”

The China Eastern Airlines jet in question was a Boeing 737-800. The domestic passenger aircraft departed from southwestern China’s Kunming city for southern China’s Guangzhou city on March 21. The jet crashed just outside of Guangzhou province (of which Guangzhou city is the capital) in the Chinese autonomous region of Guanxi on the afternoon of March 21.

The U.S. multinational corporation Boeing, which manufactured the doomed jet, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) declined to comment on the WSJ and Reuters reports this week suggesting the airliner may have crashed intentionally. The two entities referred questions on the matter to Chinese air-safety regulators.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has not commented on speculation surrounding the cause of the Boeing 737-800’s crash on March 21. CAAC gave a briefing on its preliminary investigation into the incident on April 20. Xinhua, China’s official state press agency, published sections of the briefing, noting that the China Eastern Airlines aircraft “entered the Guangzhou [radar] control area at 2:17 p.m. [on March 21].”

Providing a chronological account of the jet’s final moments, Xinhua relayed:

The area control radar warned of a deviation at 2:20:55 p.m., and the aircraft left the cruising altitude of 8,900 meters. The controller called the crew immediately, but received no reply.

At 2:21:40 p.m., the last aircraft information recorded by the radar was: standard pressure altitude at 3,380 meters, ground speed at 1,010 kph, with the aircraft on a heading of 117 degrees. Subsequently, the radar signal disappeared, the report shows.

The plane finally crashed into an area near Molang Village under Langnan Township of Tengxian County in the city of Wuzhou, south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, killing all 123 passengers and nine crew members on board.

The CAAC’s April 20 report further noted that the plane’s “two black boxes were severely damaged in the crash, and data retrieval and analysis are still under way [sic].”

The China Eastern Airlines crash on March 21 marked China’s deadliest air incident since 1994.


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