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‘Told to do by someone in cockpit’: Report says China Eastern plane crash was likely intentional

A Boeing 737-800 jet had plummeted from cruising altitude in a near-vertical descent to crash in the hills near the Chinese city of Wuzhou on 21 March.

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New Delhi: The black box for the China Eastern Airlines plane, that crashed in March killing 132 people aboard, suggests that someone in the cockpit of the Boeing plane took an intentional nosedive, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The Boeing 737-800 jet had plummeted 30,000 feet in a near-vertical descent in under three minutes to crash in the hills near the Chinese city of Wuzhou on 21 March.

Data from a black box recovered in the crash suggest inputs to the controls pushed the plane into the fatal dive, the report said, quoting people familiar with US officials’ preliminary assessment of the accident.

“The plane did what it was told to do by someone in the cockpit,” said a person familiar with the preliminary assessment, which also includes an analysis of information taken from the damaged flight-data recorder.

Data from a black box retrieved from the crash site suggests inputs were deliberately fed into the controls that caused the plane’s fatal nosedive.

This person also said that Chinese investigators had not found any mechanical or flight-control problems with the plane. He said: “That model is a workhorse of the global aviation industry and is part of a family of Boeing aircraft that have one of the best safety records in commercial flying.”

Therefore, either it was a pilot or someone on the plane who broke into the cockpit and deliberately crashed the plane, the report said.

The “deliberate crash” theory is also bolstered by the fact that neither Boeing nor an air-safety regulator have been working on any directives to pilots, alerting them of possible malfunctioning that might have caused the accident.

Chinese authorities have also prepared a preliminary report on their investigation into the crash. A summary of the findings said there was nothing abnormal in the communication between the crew and the traffic-control before the plane descended.

How did the descent begin

Days after the crash, a Bloomberg report had detailed that Flight MU5735 was at about 29,000 feet altitude and roughly 100 miles from its destination when it started plunging at a far greater rate than normal.

According to tracking data logged by Flightradar24, the plane began falling at more than 30,000 feet per minute within seconds instead of gradually dropping by a few thousand feet per minute.

Overall, it plunged almost 26,000 feet in the span of roughly 1 minute, 35 seconds, the data track showed.

The plane’s dive appeared to have halted for about 10 seconds and it climbed briefly, adding an unusual twist to the scenario.

A fatal record of intentional crashes

In March 2015, a young co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, deliberately crashed a Germanwings airliner into the French Alps, killing himself and 149 other people.

Germanwings flight 4U 9525 took off from Barcelona Airport in Spain heading for Duesseldorf, Germany at 09:00 GMT. Thirty minutes into the flight, the captain told the co-pilot he was leaving the cockpit and asked him to take over radio communications. The cockpit door is heard opening and closing on the recording.

Seconds later, the selected altitude was changed from 38,000 feet to 100 feet and the plane began its descent.

The final report on the crash by French investigators found the co-pilot had suffered from a psychiatric condition and had been taking medication before the crash.

In another fatal accident in 1994, the flight’s captain intentionally crashed a passenger flight on 21 August approximately ten minutes after takeoff from an airport in Morocco.

The commission that investigated the crash said the plane’s autopilot was intentionally disconnected by 32-year-old captain Younes Khayati, who then deliberately crashed the aircraft, killing 44 people.

Even in case of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which vanished on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014, speculation abound that the plane may have been downed by a suicidal pilot.

Also read: China denies online ‘rumours’ blaming co-pilot for plane crash killing 132


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