UPDATE: China Eastern Crash Result of Intentional Act

Black box data indicates that one of the crews of China Eastern flight MU5735 intentionally crashed the plane

Crash an Intentional Act

New data from the investigation into the China Eastern Airlines crash suggests that it was caused by an intentional act, US officials say. Flight MU5735 crashed into the mountains in Tengxian on March 21 after going into a near-vertical nosedive. All 132 passengers aboard the Boeing 737-800 perished in the accident.

Investigators at the China Eastern crash site
Investigators at the crash site | © Bloomberg

Flight data from the plane’s black boxes indicate the dive was caused by a deliberate act from the cockpit. The Wall Street Journal was the first to break the news yesterday, citing people familiar with US officials’ preliminary assessment of the incident. The officials pointed out that the aircraft’s flaps were not engaged during the descent, and the landing gear was not put down. Consequently, Chinese investigators have delved into the pilots’ personal lives and believe that one of them may have been struggling with certain issues right before the crash, according to ABC News.

Black boxes

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been assisting Chinese investigators with the review of the two black boxes at its lab in Washington. Whilst the team has been successful in getting information from the flight data recorder, the cockpit voice recorder was badly damaged in the crash, and it is unclear whether investigators have been able to retrieve any data from it. The voice recorder was recovered from the crash site on March 23, while the flight data recorder was found on March 27.

The Flight Data Recorder recovered from the China Eastern crash
The Flight Data Recorder recovered from the crash | © Xinhua / Sipa USA

The NTSB said that all further information on the crash would come from the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC):

“The NTSB will not be issuing any further updates on the CAAC’s investigation of the China Eastern 5735 crash,”

Adding that they have no involvement in the CAAC’s decision to make announcements:

“When and whether CAAC issues updates is entirely up to them. And I haven’t heard anything about any plans for them to do so.”

Engineers at Boeing have found no technical issues with the aircraft, which must be a relief for the American aircraft manufacturer. The 737-800 is the predecessor to Boeing’s 737 MAX, which was involved in two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. The 737-800 does not feature the systems which were responsible for the two accidents. China Eastern grounded its fleet of 223  Boeing 737-800s immediately after the accident but later resumed its service after ruling out safety concerns with the aircraft.


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Josh McMinn
Josh McMinnhttp://joshmcminn.com
Jr Reporter - Josh is an Jr. Aviation Reporter at Travel Radar covering the latest industry news, developments and passenger experiences. Outside of reporting, Josh is a talented artist and camera operator with experience spanning several industries.



  1. Don’t count on the Chinese Communists to release any informative data if it’s embarrassing to them. I expect them to announce the PIC and first officer both died from the Wuhan virus and fell forward onto the yokes.


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