Initial investigations into the China Eastern Airlines plane that crashed into a mountain suggests that someone intentionally caused the plane to plummet. A report by the Wall Street Journal cites “people familiar with U.S. officials’ preliminary assessment of what led to the accident” who claim that data from a recovered black box revealed inputs to the controls that made the plane nosedive into the mountainous area in southern China.
The Boeing 737-800 was carrying 132 people on board, none of whom are presumed to have survived the crash. The flight was traveling from Kunming to Guanghzou, China, when it disappeared off the radar about an hour after takeoff, and crashed near the city of Wuzhou on March 21. The plane reportedly experienced a sudden change in altitude moments before losing communications with air traffic controllers, plummeting 20,000 feet in a little more than a minute. A horrifying video obtained by the Associated Press at the time showed the plane in an almost vertical descent, nosediving towards the mountains below.
Shortly after the crash, investigators recovered one of two black boxes but it was heavily damaged, according to media reports. Sources told the Wall Street Journal that the recovered black box suggests that someone in the cockpit input controls that pushed the plane into its fatal dive. It’s still not clear, however, whether a pilot might have deliberately crashed the plane, or if someone took over the cockpit to crash the plane.
The source added that Chinese authorities investigating the crash have found no mechanical or flight-control errors that would have lead to the crash. “With the information we currently have, we have no way of coming to a clear view of the reasons [for the crash],” a spokesperson for China’s main airline regulator said earlier in March.
Chinese authorities are still investigating the plane crash, announcing in April that analysis of the black box was still in progress.