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 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 one of Boeing 737-800’s black boxes indicated that someone in the cockpit had deliberately crashed the plane, citing US officials’ initial assessments.

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. China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC), which is leading the investigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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A Boeing 737-800 en route from Kunming to Guangzhou crashed in the mountains of Guangxi on March 21, killing all 123 passengers and nine crew 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 on Wednesday on China’s Weibo social media site and WeChat news app. The hashtags “China Eastern” and “China Eastern Black Box” have been banned on Weibo, citing the violation, and users will not be able to share posts about the incident in group chats on WeChat.

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In response to rumors circulating on the Internet that the crash was intentional, the CAAC said on April 11 that it had “severely misled the public” and “interfered with the accident investigation.”

A woman who asked to be identified only by the family name of Wen, who lost her husband in the crash, told Reuters on Wednesday she had not seen the Wall Street Journal report but hoped the results of the investigation would be released soon.

Wen said he and the victims’ family members had signed an agreement with China Eastern, which included a point about compensation, but he declined to say how much was paid.

China Eastern did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Wall Street Journal said in a statement that the airline had not released any evidence that could determine whether there were any problems with the aircraft.

No technical suggestions

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 grounded 737-800 aircraft after the Eastern plane crash, but resumed flights in mid-April, with Boeing’s decision to reject immediate new safety concerns widely seen at the time being widely used.

In a summary of the preliminary crash report released last month, Chinese analysts did not point to technical recommendations for the 737-800, which have 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 any urgent action.

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If the board has any security concerns, it will “make emergency safety recommendations,” Homandi said.

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

Boeing shares rose as much as 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.

Deliberate accidents are very rare worldwide. 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.

The cockpit voice recorder was damaged during the crash and it is unclear whether investigators were able to recover any information from it.

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 Reporting by Stella Cue and Martin Queen Pollard in Beijing; Editing by Leslie Adler, Marguerite Choi and Richard Bullin

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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