Officials at the National Transportation Safety Board say that evidence points in one clear direction — the pilot of the doomed China Eastern flight in March intentionally caused the crash.
Horrific video shows the Boeing 737-800 racing down in a vertical nosedive just moments before the deaths of all 132 passengers and crew. The Wall Street Journal revealed the preliminary assessment shows the vertical descent was what the plane “was told to do by someone in the cockpit.”
According to flight records, the airliner was cruising at 29,000 feet before suddenly losing altitude and crashing into a wooded mountain. The impact created a 65-foot deep crater and spread wreckage around the area. There was no communication with air traffic controllers during the descent.
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were both sent to the NTSB by the Chinese government for analysis. Each was initially reported as “severely damaged,” likely from the 90-degree impact the airliner took when it crashed. What followed was weeks of painstaking data restoration.
It is now believed that the plane’s vertical descent from high altitude was intentional. Sources admit, however, that U.S. investigators do not have all available information from Chinese authorities.
Notably, Chinese officials have not announced mechanical or technical problems with the plane. Revealing potential issues is normal procedure to head off similar issues across the airline industry. All Boeing 737-800s were grounded by China’s four major airlines for nearly a month.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) initially pushed back against claims out of Washington D.C. that the plane may have been deliberately crashed. Widely circulated rumors of a copilot intentionally bringing the plane down bounced around the nation’s internet in early April.
CAAC officials, however, called the rumors “misleading” and said they “interfered with the investigation.” China Eastern told the Journal that the pilot’s health and personal situation were fine and he did not face financial issues.
The Chinese airline industry is markedly safer in recent years after decades of being known for frequent air catastrophes. In the wake of fleet modernization and implementing stricter safety controls, the March disaster is the first fatal airline crash in the country since 2010.