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Black box data from China Eastern Airlines plane crash that killed 132 people may have been intentional, reports say

Business Insider US
Rescuers at a plane crash site in Tengxian County in Guangxi, China, after the China Eastern Airlines crash.
  • A China Eastern Airlines crashed in Guangxi, China, in March, killing 132 people.
  • Flight data suggests someone in the cockpit pushed the plane into a near-vertical descent, WSJ said.
  • Attention has turned to a pilot, but it's possible someone else broke into the cockpit, the report said.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

The China Eastern Airlines plane crash that killed all 132 people on board in March may have been caused deliberately, The Wall Street Journal and ABC News reported. 

Data recovered from the plane's black box suggests someone in the cockpit had input controls that sent the plane into a near-vertical descent, The Journal reported, citing people familiar with US officials' preliminary assessment of the disaster.

"The plane did what it was told to do by someone in the cockpit," an unnamed source told The Journal.

The Boeing 737-800 plane, which was en route from Kunming to Guangzhou, was cruising at a steady altitude and speed before it started a rapid descent from 29,000 feet on March 12. It crashed minutes later into a mountainside in southern China's Guangxi province.

The crash investigation is being led by China but US officials were invited to take part because the plane was US-made.

US officials have now turned their attention to the actions of one of the pilots, though there is also a possibility that someone else on the plane barged into the cockpit and intentionally caused the crash, The Journal reported.

According to ABC News, investigators believe one of the pilots may have been struggling through what the outlet said was "certain issues" right before the crash. ABC News did not specify what those issues might have been.

US officials also told ABC News that the plane's nosedive would have required intentional force. The plane's flaps were not engaged and landing gear was not put down, the officials said.

Neither US regulators and Boeing, nor Chinese investigators, have flagged any mechanical issues with the flight, ABC News said.

The Boeing 737 is one of the most-used plane models on the planet — and is also considered one of the safest plane models.

The China Eastern Airlines plane that crashed in March was a 737-800 NG, a relatively modern variant of the 737.

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