they believe someone on board deliberately crashed a China Eastern flight in March, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, in what was China’s deadliest air disaster in decades.
China Eastern flight MU5375 was traveling from Kunming to Guangzhou on March 21 when it inexplicably fell from a height of 29,000 feet into the side of a mountain.on board.
So-calledRecorders recovered from the site were shipped to the United States for analysis.
That data shows that someone, possibly a pilot or someone who forced their way into the cockpit, entered orders to send the Boeing 737-800 into a nosedive, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the investigation.
“The plane did what someone in the cockpit told it to do,” the Journal quoted “a person familiar with US officials’ preliminary assessment” as saying.
A source told Reuters that investigators were looking into whether the accident was caused by “voluntary” action involving the crew, although that does not necessarily mean the submersion was intentional.
US officials believe their conclusion is supported by the fact that Chinese investigators have so far not indicated any issues with the aircraft or flight controls that could have caused the crash and that should be addressed on future flights, the newspaper said.
Both the US National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing declined to comment on the investigation to AFP on Tuesday.
According to a Boeing report, investigators found no evidence of “anything abnormal,” the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in April.
In a statement, the CAAC said staff had met safety requirements before takeoff, that the plane was not carrying dangerous goods and did not appear to have encountered inclement weather, though the agency said a full investigation could take years.
In the immediate aftermath of the crash, China’s ruling Communist Party moved quickly to control information, revving up its censorship machine as media outlets and local residents rushed to the crash site.
He has kept his tight grip on the narrative, with the preliminary investigation leaving key questions unanswered.
Screenshots of the Wall Street Journal story appeared to have been censored on both China’s main social media platform and messaging app on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
After the fatal crash near the southern city of Wuzhou, authorities quickly cordoned off a huge area and China’s internet regulator announced it had deleted large amounts of “illegal information” about the crash from China’s tightly controlled website.
A social media hashtag with the plane’s flight number appeared to be censored.
The accident was China’s deadliest in around 30 years and dented the country’s enviable flight safety record.
Deliberate plane crashes are very rare. In 2015, aintentionally flew a passenger plane into the side of a French mountain, killing all 150 people on board.