China East Accident Investigation Deliberate Action – Sources

Washington, May 17 (Reuters) – Investigators are investigating the crash of a China Eastern Airlines plane. (600115SS) Jet is investigating whether there was a deliberate move at the airport, and so far there is no evidence of a technical glitch, with two people explaining the matter.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that flight data from the black box of the Boeing 737-800 indicated that someone in the cockpit had deliberately crashed the plane, citing US officials familiar with the preliminary assessment.

Boeing Co. (BA.N)The jet maker and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) declined to comment and sent questions to Chinese regulators.

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The Boeing 737-800, en route from Kunming to Guangzhou, crashed in the Guangxi Mountains on March 21, killing all 123 passengers and nine crew members on board.

It was the worst aviation disaster on China’s mainland in 28 years. read more

Authorities said the pilots did not respond to repeated calls from traffic controllers and nearby planes as they made rapid landings. A source said Reuters investigators were watching to see if the crash was a “voluntary” act.

Screenshots of the Wall Street Journal story appeared to have been censored Wednesday morning on both China’s Twitter-like site Weibo and the news app Wechat. The hashtags “China Eastern” and “China Eastern Black Boxes” are banned on Weibo, indicating that they violate relevant laws and that users will not be able to share the story in group chats on Wechat.

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In response to rumors of a deliberate crash on the Internet on April 11, China’s Civil Aviation Administration said speculation had “severely misled the public” and “interfered with the accident investigation.”

China East did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal reported in a statement that the airline had not released any evidence that could determine whether there were any problems with the crashed plane. The Chinese embassy declined to comment.

The 737-800 was the forerunner of Boeing’s 737 Max, but did not have the settings associated with the 737-MAX crashes of 2018 and 2019, which led to the long landing of the MAX.

China landed its entire fleet of 737-800 aircraft after the Eastern crash, but resumed flights in mid-April as a prevalent measure at the time, dismissing Boeing’s previous and more widely used model’s new safety concerns.

In a summary of the preliminary accident report not released last month, Chinese regulators did not point to any technical recommendations for the 737-800, which has been in service since 1997, according to experts.

NTSB President Jennifer Homondi said in a May 10 Reuters interview that board investigators and Boeing had traveled to China to assist the Chinese investigation. He noted that the investigation to date has not identified any security issues that require urgent action.

Homondi said the board would “issue emergency safety recommendations” if there were any security concerns.

NTSB assisted Chinese investigators in reviewing black boxes at its US laboratory in Washington.

Boeing shares rose 6.5%.

Chinese officials say it could take two years or more to compile a final report on the causes. Analysts say most accidents are caused by cocktails of human and technical factors.

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Deliberate accidents are exceptionally rare. Experts say this has opened the door to recent hypotheses as to whether the act was performed by a pilot alone or as a result of a fight or intrusion, but no evidence has been confirmed.

In March 2015, a Germanwings co-pilot deliberately crashed an Airbus A320 in the French mountains, killing all on board.

French investigators have identified the 27-year-old as suffering from a suspicious “psychological depressive episode” which was hidden from his employer. They then called for better mental health guidance and stronger fellow support groups for pilots.

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Report by David Shepherdson in Washington, Tim Hepper in Paris and Abhijit Ganapavaram in Bangalore; Additional report by Stella Q in Beijing; Editing by Leslie Adler, Marguerite Choi and Richard Bullin

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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