Investigators are investigating into whether the accident of a Crash China Eastern Airlines 600115.SS jet was caused by deliberate activity on the flight deck, with no proof of a technical problem, according to two persons briefed on the case.
According to the Wall Street Journal, flight data from one of the Boeing 737-800’s black boxes showed that someone in the cockpit deliberately wrecked the plane, citing persons familiar with US officials’ first assessment.
The plane’s manufacturer, Boeing Co BA.N, and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) declined to comment, referring inquiries to Chinese regulators.
The investigation’s main agency, China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC), did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After a precipitous descent from cruising altitude, the Boeing 737-800, en route from Kunming to Guangzhou, crashed on March 21 in the mountains of the Guangxi province, killing all 123 passengers and nine crew members aboard.
It was the deadliest aircraft tragedy in mainland China in 28 years. Read the entire story
During the quick descent, the pilots did not reply to numerous requests from air traffic controllers and surrounding planes, according to police. According to Reuters, investigators are examining whether the collision was “voluntary.”
On Wednesday, screenshots of the Wall Street Journal piece seemed to be restricted on China’s Weibo social media site as well as the Wechat messaging service. Weibo has prohibited the hashtag topics “China Eastern” and “China Eastern black boxes” due to a legal violation, and users are unable to share messages on the incident in group chats on Wechat.
In reaction to internet speculations of an intentional collision, the CAAC announced on April 11 that the conjecture had “gravely deceived the public” and “interfered with the accident investigation process.”
Wen, a widow who lost her husband in the crash and wished to be identified only by her surname, told Reuters on Wednesday that she had not read the Wall Street Journal piece but hoped the investigation’s findings would be disclosed soon.
Wen said she and other victims’ families had signed a contract with China Eastern that included a clause about compensation, but she wouldn’t reveal how much.
A request for comment from China Eastern was not immediately returned. According to the Wall Street Journal, the airline stated in a statement that no evidence had surfaced that might indicate whether the plane had any issues.
NO TECHNICAL SUGGESTIONS
The 737-800 is a popular precursor of Boeing’s 737 MAX, however it lacks the technologies that have been connected to fatal 737-MAX disasters in 2018 and 2019, forcing the MAX to be grounded for an extended period.
Following the incident, China Eastern grounded its entire 737-800 fleet, but resumed flights in mid-April, a decision widely seen at the time as ruling out any urgent new safety concerns regarding Boeing’s most commonly used type.
Chinese investigators did not mention any technical recommendations for the 737-800, which has been in service since 1997 and has an excellent safety record, according to experts, in a summary of an unpublished preliminary crash report last month.
In a May 10 Reuters interview, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy claimed that board investigators and Boeing had come to China to assist the Chinese inquiry. She stated that the review had revealed no safety concerns that required immediate attention.
If the board has any safety issues, Homendy said they will “make urgent safety recommendations.”
Despite political tensions between the two countries, the NTSB supported Chinese investigators with the study of black boxes at its Washington lab.
According to the state-owned Global Times, the CAAC acknowledged that the NTSB did not share details on the China Eastern crash to the media.
Boeing’s stock finished the day up 6.5 percent.
Chinese officials have stated that compiling a complete investigation into the causes could take two years or more. Most crashes, according to analysts, are caused by a combination of human and technical factors.
Deliberate crashes are quite uncommon over the world. Experts highlighted that the latest theory made it unclear whether the action was the result of a single pilot acting alone or a struggle or infiltration, although sources underlined that nothing had been confirmed.
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The cockpit voice recorder was destroyed in the disaster, and it’s unknown whether investigators were able to recover any data from it.
A Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed an Airbus A320 into a French mountainside in March 2015, killing all 150 people on board.
Investigators in France discovered the 27-year-old was hiding a potential “psychotic depressive episode” from his boss. They later urged for improved mental health guidelines and pilot peer support groups.