China plane crash that killed 132 was 'caused intentionally by someone in cockpit'

18 May 2022, 06:43 | Updated: 18 May 2022, 06:44

The plane nosedived into a Chinese mountain
The plane nosedived into a Chinese mountain. Picture: Social media/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The China plane crash that killed all 132 of its passengers after a horror nosedive was 'caused intentionally by someone in the cockpit', black box data has indicated.

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The China Eastern Boeing 737-800 plummeted out of the sky on March 21, briefly recovering before slamming into the ground.

The preliminary assessment from US officials - who analysed both black boxes at a government lab in Washington DC - suggested someone inside the most secure area of the plane was responsible, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The paper cited people familiar with the assessment, adding that there was no evidence as of yet of technical problems with the jet.

"The plane did what it was told to do by someone in the cockpit," a source said.

It is unclear whether the hypothesis is based off scenarios such as a pilot acting alone, a struggle, or a passenger breaking into the cockpit.

However, the airline told the paper that a cockpit intrusion was not plausible, after Chinese authorities said in a March press conference that there was no emergency code sent before the crash.

Read more: No survivors found after plane nosedives into mountainside in China

Read more: 'Catastrophic incident on board' Chinese plane sparked death plunge, expert says

The flight, which was travelling from Kunming, in the southern province Yunnan, east to Guangzhou, carried 123 passengers and nine crew members, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Local police were called by villagers about the crash at about 2.30pm [6.30am GMT], about 15 minutes after the plane lost contact.

The pilots did not respond to repeated calls from air traffic controllers and nearby planes during the rapid descent, authorities previously said.

It was mainland China's deadliest aviation disaster in 28 years.

Boeing Co - the maker of the jet - and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) declined to comment and referred questions to Chinese regulators, according to Reuters.

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