China Eastern Airlines crash: “Foul play” should be a top consideration, says investigator

Kagoshima, Japan - April 24, 2010: Airbus A319 operated by China Eastern Airlines taking off at Kagoshima Airport for Shanghai

An air crash investigator said that foul play should be a top priority for authorities investigating the crash of China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735.

The flight descended almost vertically and there have been no survivors found of the 132 onboard.

Michael Daniel, who worked on the Egypt Air Flight 990 and SilkAir flight 185 crash investigations, which were both deliberately crashed by the pilot according to the US National Transportation Safety Board, believes foul play is a strong possibility.

Both the Egypt Air and SilkAir flights also had “very quick and very sudden” dives straight to the ground.

“I think that’d be one of the first things I would look at is foul play,” Daniel told the New York Times.

The plan still had power as it was descending, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration.

“So that kind of rules out a catastrophic type of failure,” Daniel said.

“Even with catastrophic failures, a lot of times you’ll see some opportunity for declaring an emergency, or mayday or, or something along those lines. There’s nothing that’s been released here that indicates any kind of distress call. ”

Daniel, who is the senior policy manager at Aviation Insight, said that if the horizontal stabiliser, which controls the balance of the plane, was stuck, the plane would likely waver as it fell.

The China Eastern Airlines flight fell almost 8 kilometres in two minutes, according to FlightRadar 24 data, causing parts of the plane to fall off as it shot towards the mountains in south-eastern China.

Footage posted on social media show the plane nosediving into the mountain and the trees billowing with smoke after the crash.

https://twitter.com/Panjelajah/status/1505905046826848260

Daniel is not the only air crash investigator who has been puzzled by the plane crash.

“It’s an odd profile,” John Cox, an aviation safety consultant and former 737 pilot told Bloomberg.

“It’s hard to get the airplane to do this.”

The former director of the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, Jean-Paul Troadec, said the flight data was “very unusual,” but added it was “far too early” to draw conclusions.

The intense, sudden dive occurred one hour and ten minutes into the flight.

“I think there’s a good chance that there were people that were still alive prior to impact,” Daniel said.

The g-force of the drop may have knocked some passengers and crew out.

“This thing fell so quickly, so steeply, I don’t see how anybody would have had any opportunity to don emergency masks,” Daniel said.

The next step for investigators will be to reach the crash site and retrieve the black box, which will be difficult considering the significant crater the impact made.

“Access to the remote area will be a challenge, recovery will be a challenge, transparency perhaps could be a challenge,” said Daniel.

“You’ll have a team that will look at the human factors part of the investigation. They’ll do a look back on the flight crew back even several days to see what the behaviour was, where they were, what they were doing, what their attitude was,” Daniel concluded.


Featured image: iStock/GA161076

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