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Report: Pilot Murder-Suicide Likely Cause of China Eastern Air Disaster

The Wall Street Journal said flight recorder data showed human input behind the nosedive and resultant crash

A China Eastern Boeing 737-800 - Black Box Found In China Boeing 737 Crash. - Plane & Pilot
A China Eastern Boeing 737-800 similar to the one that crashed in China earlier this week killing all 132 aboard.

Breaking News: A story in the Wall Street Journal reports that the crash of the China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737 that went down in March in a remote area of Southeast China killing all 132 aboard was caused by human input.

The cause of the March 22, 2022, crash, has yet to be officially determined. But the details available even before the Journal’s report had already given rise to pilot suicide as a leading theory among accident analysts not involved in the investigation. This was especially so after security cam video of the plane in a steep nosedive emerged. Some frames of that grainy video appear to show parts of the airplane being shed in the dive. Flight tracking data, moreover, showed the plane leveled off briefly before again diving sharply until it impacted terrain at very high speed, all of which are consistent with human action and possible a fight for control of the plane between two people.

The flight recorder supports this theory, as it shows the controls being pushed forward to initiate a steep descent, close to a 90-degree descent angle. And while cockpit intrusion remains a possibility, pilot murder-suicide seems likelier, as ATC received no hijacking coded message from the crew, and the cockpit door, as is the case in the United States, is strongly secured.

The China Eastern Flight 5735 search effort. Via Wikipedia Commons
The China Eastern Flight 5735 search effort. Via Wikipedia Commons

Given the crash site’s remoteness and inaccessibility, combined with the destructive high-velocity impact, the search for the flight recorders was beyond challenging. But Chinese searchers did indeed locate both the flight data and cockpit voice recorders shortly after the crash. The instruments were subsequently sent to Washington, D.C., for data recovery. The unnamed source behind the Wall Street Journal’s report is presumably someone close to that data recovery effort.

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