Sources: East China crash probe monitors deliberate action

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Investigators investigating the crash of a China Eastern Airlines flight (600115.SS) are examining whether it was due to intentional action taken on the flight deck, with no evidence yet of technical failure, two people. I saw this issue he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Tuesday that flight data from one of the black boxes of a Boeing 737-800 indicates that someone in the cockpit intentionally crashed the plane, citing people familiar with the initial assessment of US officials.

The plane’s manufacturer Boeing (BA.N) and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) declined to comment and referred questions to Chinese regulators.

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A Boeing 737-800, en route from Kunming to Guangzhou, crashed on March 21 in the Guangxi Mountains, after a sudden drop from altitude, killing all 123 passengers and nine crew members.

It was the deadliest aviation disaster in mainland China in 28 years. Read more

Authorities said the pilots did not respond to repeated calls from air traffic controllers and nearby aircraft during the rapid descent. One of the sources said Reuters investigators were looking into whether the accident was a “voluntary” act.

Screenshots from the Wall Street Journal story appear to have been censored on Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo and messaging app Wechat on Wednesday morning. The hashtags “China Eastern” and “China Eastern Black Boxes” have been banned on Weibo, which indicated violations of relevant laws, and users cannot share the story in Wechat chat groups.

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

China Eastern did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal said the airline said in a statement that no evidence had emerged that could determine whether there were any problems with the plane crash. The Chinese embassy declined to comment.

The 737-800 is a widely transported predecessor to the Boeing 737 MAX but does not have the systems that have been linked to the fatal 737-MAX accidents in 2018 and 2019 that shut down the MAX.

China Eastern grounded its entire fleet of 737-800 planes after the crash, but resumed flights in mid-April in a move widely seen at the time as ruling out any immediate new safety concerns about the former and most widely used Boeing model. wide range.

In a summary of an unpublished initial crash report last month, Chinese regulators made no technical recommendations for the 737-800, which has operated since 1997 with a solid safety record, according to experts.

NTSB chief Jennifer Homendi said in an interview with Reuters on May 10 that board investigators and Boeing have traveled to China to assist the Chinese investigation. She pointed out that the investigation so far has not found any safety issues that require any urgent measures.

Homendy said that if the board had any safety concerns, it would “issue urgent safety recommendations.”

The NTSB helped Chinese investigators review the black boxes at its US laboratory in Washington.

Boeing shares closed up 6.5 percent.

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

Intentional accidents are exceptionally rare. Experts indicated that the last hypothesis was left open, whether the procedure was the result of a single pilot acting alone, or as a result of a conflict or intrusion, but the sources stressed that nothing has been confirmed.

In March 2015, a Germanwings co-pilot deliberately flew an Airbus A320 into a French mountainside, killing all 150 people on board.

French investigators found that the 27-year-old was suffering from a suspected “depressive episode”, hidden from his employer. They later called for better mental health guidelines and stronger peer support groups for pilots.

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(Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Tim Hever in Paris, and Abhijith Ganabavaram in Bengaluru.) Additional reporting by Stella Keogh in Beijing; Editing by Leslie Adler, Margarita Choi and Richard Boleyn

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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