A new Wall Street Journal report states that U.S. officials suspect someone in the cockpit deliberately crashed a China Eastern flight that fell into the ground in southern China in March.
On Mar. 21, a Boeing 737-800 was flying from Kunming to Guangzhou when it crashed from its cruise altitude of 29,000 feet into a mountainside, killing all 132 persons on board. It was the worst aviation accident on the Chinese mainland in over 30 years.
According to authorities, the pilots did not respond to repeated requests from air traffic controllers and adjacent planes throughout the rapid drop.
According to the Wall Street Journal, data from one of the black boxes showed that someone in the cockpit deliberately crashed the jet, citing persons familiar with US officials' preliminary assessment.
A Reuters source said authorities are looking into whether the disaster was caused by "voluntary" crew inputs to the controls, though this does not rule out the possibility that the dive was intentional.
The cockpit voice recorder was destroyed in the disaster, and it's unknown whether investigators were able to recover any data from it.
On Wednesday, screenshots of the Wall Street Journal piece were banned on China's Weibo social media network and the WeChat messaging app.
Data from one of the black boxes suggested that someone in the cockpit purposefully crashed the plane, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with U.S. officials' first assessment.
Authorities are investigating if the catastrophe was triggered by "voluntary" crew inputs to the controls, according to a Reuters source, though this does not rule out the possibility that the descent was planned.
The cockpit voice recorder was damaged in the crash, and it's unclear whether investigators were able to extract any information from it.
Screenshots of the Wall Street Journal article were removed from China's Weibo social media network and WeChat messaging app on Wednesday.
Experts say in a summary of an unpublished preliminary crash investigation released last month, Chinese investigators made no technical recommendations for the 737-800, which has been in service since 1997 and has a strong safety record.
Despite political tensions between the two countries, the NTSB supported Chinese investigators with the review of black boxes at its US laboratory in Washington.
According to the state-owned Global Times, CAAC stated the NTSB confirmed that it did not leak information about the China Eastern crash to the media.
Chinese officials say compiling a full study on the causes of the incident could take two years or more. Analysts attribute the majority of crashes to a combination of human and technical reasons.