Black box data recovered from a China Eastern flight that crashed in March suggests someone in the cockpit intentionally shot the plane down, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a preliminary assessment by US officials .
The Boeing 737-800 was flying from Kunming to Guangzhou when it plunged 29,000ft into the air in the mountains, killing all 132 passengers and crew on board. It is China’s deadliest air disaster in decades.
According to the Journal, citing people familiar with the probe, information extracted from the plane’s damaged flight data recorder shows that human input commands to the controls sent the plane into its fatal plunge.
“The plane did what it was told to do by someone in the cockpit,” the Journal said, quoting a person familiar with US officials’ preliminary assessment.
The plane’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were recovered from the crash and sent to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington DC for analysis, officials said. Chinese state media earlier.
US officials involved in the investigation are focusing on the actions of one pilot, the Journal reported, adding that it is also possible that someone else on the plane broke into the cockpit and caused deliberately the accident.
Chinese investigators did not reveal any mechanical or technical issues with the plane that could have caused the crash and may require further action in the industry – as is typical in such events – a fact that officials Americans believe they have credibility with their assessment, the newspaper reported.
CNN has contacted the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and China Eastern Airlines for comment.
In a statement to the Journal, China Eastern said no evidence has emerged that could determine whether or not there were issues with the plane involved in the crash. The airline told the Journal that the health and family conditions of the pilots were good, and added that their financial situation was also good.
“Any unofficial speculation may interfere with the accident investigation and affect the actual progress of the global airline industry,” the airline told the Journal.
On Wednesday, China’s state-run newspaper, the Global Times, cited a statement from the CAAC, which said it contacted NTSB investigators who denied “leaking information about the investigation to any media outlets.”
According to the Global Times, the CAAC said the investigation was continuing in a “scientific and rigorous” manner, and pledged to issue “prompt and accurate” updates.
In a summary of its preliminary report released April 20, the CAAC said the two black boxes were “severely damaged” and that “data restoration and analysis work is still ongoing.”
The report states that the flight crew and maintenance personnel “were to the applicable standards” and that no items on board had been declared as dangerous goods, and that there was no forecast of hazardous weather conditions. .
Before the plane deviated from cruising altitude, radio communications between the crew and the air traffic control department showed no abnormalities, according to the report.
Rumors that a co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane circulated widely on the internet in China in early April, with some highlighting CAAC’s remarks about the mental health of aviation personnel after the crash.
At an aviation security meeting on April 6, CAAC director Feng Zhenglin urged Communist Party officials at all levels to “stabilize the thoughts of their teams, do their utmost to resolve the problems of employees in their work, life and studies, and to ensure their physical health”. and mental health.
“In particular, officials should do their best in the pilots’ ideological work to lay a solid foundation for the front line to operate safely,” Feng said.
Speculation about the suicide of the pilot responsible for the accident has already prompted the CAAC to issue a denial. “These rumors…seriously misled the public and interfered with the accident investigation,” Wu Shijie, a CAAC official, said at a press conference on April 11, adding that the police were conducting investigations to hold rumor mongers accountable.