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China Eastern Airlines Boeing plane may have been deliberately crashed by pilot, says US report

Rescuers at a plane crash site in Tengxian County in Guangxi, China, after the China Eastern Airlines crash.(File photo)

Flight data from a black box recovered from the China Eastern Airlines Boeing plane that crashed in March this year indicates someone in the cockpit intentionally crashed the airliner into the mountain, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Analysis by US officials of the black box flight recorders found amid the wreckage suggests deliberate input from the cockpit forced the Boeing 737-800 plane into its catastrophic dive that killed 132 people on board.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed source who said: “The plane did what it was told to do by someone in the cockpit.”

Reuters news agency also cited a “western official” as saying that the focus is on the actions of the crew after the preliminary investigation did not find any indication of a technical malfunction in the plane that suddenly plunged to the ground.

In a summary of its preliminary crash report last month, Chinese regulators did not point to any technical recommendations on the 737-800, which has been in service since 1997 with a strong safety record, according to experts.

The plane was cruising at a steady altitude and speed before it suddenly descended more than 20,000ft in just over a minute, and crashing near the city of Wuzhou in Guangxi province.

Authorities in China said soon after the crash that no emergency code had been sent from the plane, suggesting no intruder could have reached the cockpit.

China’s air regulator has not commented beyond saying last month that investigators were continuing their inquiries.

Chinese investigators have led the crash inquiry but US officials are involved as the plane is US-made. Aviation experts had noted that the flight pattern shown on tracking sites, and lack of reported mayday call or any loss of data signal, resembled the Germanwings crash in 2015. On that occasion, the Airbus A320 passenger plane was crashed deliberately by the pilot as it crossed the French Alps, killing 150 people.

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