One of the biggest plane crashes in China’s history with 132 deaths could have been triggered deliberately. The near-vertical dive of a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 on March 21 in southern China’s Guangxi region may not have been an accident and a technical failure. Rather, data from the flight recorder indicate that someone in the cockpit entered the control commands, reports the Wall Street Journal.

US officials’ analysis of flight recorders found in the wreckage would suggest the Boeing was forced into the catastrophic dive by intentional cockpit inputs, the paper writes, without naming its sources. “The plane did what someone in the cockpit told it to do,” a source said.

Neither China’s aviation authority (CAAC) nor the airline commented on the content of the press report. Shortly after the machine crashed from a height of nine kilometers into hilly terrain, there were initial speculations about a possible intentional cause of the crash.

China Eastern Airlines temporarily shut down its Boeing 737-800 fleet, but there were no instructions from the aviation authorities to inspect or replace technical components.

Therefore, in the search for the cause of the accident, the focus was increasingly on the cargo, the passengers and, above all, the pilots. There was initially no explanation for the crash because there was no emergency call from the crew.

The investigations are led by China’s aviation authority CAAC in cooperation with the US transportation authority NTSB and representatives of Boeing and the engine manufacturer CFM. Both the data recorder and the voice recorder with the recording of the noises from the cockpit were recovered shortly after the crash.

It is remarkable that even on April 20th, about a month after the crash, a preliminary report by the CAAC states that the recovery of the information from the “black boxes” is still ongoing.

By evaluating the technical data in parallel with the cockpit noises, the incidents during a flight can usually be reconstructed in detail. Therefore, it should also be possible to filter out the intrusion of people into the cockpit – or from which place in the cockpit the devastating control commands may have been given. Aviation experts are therefore now eagerly awaiting the final report on the cause of the accident.

The report about a possible deliberate triggering of the control commands for the crash of China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 brings back terrible memories of the Germanwings accident a good seven years ago. In March 2015, an Airbus crashed into a rock face in the southern French Alps. All 150 occupants were killed.

From the evaluation of the data recorder and the voice recorder, the investigators found that the co-pilot, who was the only one in the cockpit, initiated a descent and deliberately blocked the pilot’s access to the cockpit. Just two days after the Germanwings crash, Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr spoke of a deliberate crash.

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