According to a U.S. report, the China Eastern Airlines plane crash could have been intentional.
A Boeing 737-800 crashed in the Guangxi Mountains on March 21 during a flight from Kunming to Guangzhou.
All those on board – 123 passengers and nine crew members – were killed.
Late Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that flight data from one of the plane’s black boxes showed that someone in the cockpit had deliberately crashed the plane.
The report cites people familiar with the preliminary assessment made by U.S. officials, and adds that there is no evidence of technical problems with the aircraft yet.
It is unclear whether the hypothesis is an investigation: one pilot acting alone, a fighter or a passenger breaking into the cockpit.
But the airline told the Wall Street Journal that the cockpit intrusion was not plausible, citing a press conference in March at which Chinese authorities said there was no emergency code before the plane crash.
The pilots also did not respond to repeated calls from air traffic controllers and nearby aircraft during the rapid descent.
Boeing and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board declined to comment on the report, but in April China’s Civil Aviation Authority said rumors on the Internet about the deliberate crash “seriously misled the public” and “intervened in the accident investigation.”
The Wall Street Journal, citing the airline, said there was no evidence that could determine if there were any problems with the plane.
The 737-800 is the predecessor of the Boeing 737 MAX and has been in service since 1997 with a high safety rating.
It has no systems related to the 737 MAX disasters in 2018 and 2019, which killed hundreds of people and led to the model being landed around the world.
After the disaster in eastern China, the airline stopped all its 737-800, but flights resumed in April – a move seen as eliminating security concerns.
Chinese officials said it could take more than two years to prepare a final report on the disaster.