A China Eastern Airlines plane with 132 people on board crashed in southwest China on Monday.
The carrier China Eastern Airlines on Monday confirmed “deaths” and expressed its condolences after the accident of one of its Boeing-737, which crashed in southern China with 132 people on board.
“The company pays a saddened tribute to the passengers and crew members who died in the accident,” according to a statement from the company sent to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, where it is listed. It has not yet given any human toll of the disaster.
The Boeing 737, crashed near the city of Wuzhou, in the Guangxi region, and “caused a fire” in the mountains, said CCTV, adding that rescue teams were sent to the scene.
According to local media, China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 took off shortly after 1:00 p.m. local time (0500 GMT) from the southwest metropolis of Kunming. His destination was Canton, some 1,300 km away.
The aircraft “lost contact over the city of Wuzhou” in the mountainous region of Guangxi, the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) said. “It is confirmed that this flight crashed,” she added in a brief statement, adding that she had dispatched “a task force” to the scene. The plane was carrying 123 passengers and 9 crew members, according to the CAAC.
On the Flight Aware tracker application, which lists international flights and offers real-time journey tracking, we see that the location of the device was cut off shortly after takeoff. At the last moment when the plane was still listed on the plotter, it was flying at 8,880 meters above the ground, at a speed of 841 km/h.
Even if it is “far too early” to draw conclusions, Jean-Paul Troadec, former director of the Civil Aviation Safety Investigation and Analysis Bureau (BEA), believes that this Boeing 737 had “very unusual” behavior before it crashed.
A sudden fall for three minutes
“On the Flightradar site, we see that the plane, which was at cruising altitude (nearly 9,000 m above sea level, editor’s note), suddenly dived at around 600 km / h towards the ground before crashing. It is very unusual, a simple stall would not give this kind of profile at all, ”he explains to AFP. A stall at high altitude “it catches up very very very well”, adds the specialist. It is even about “maneuvers that we learn in the first hour of piloting lessons […] There, it is something else”.
Jean-Paul Troadec puts forward the hypothesis of a “sudden descent of the plane” commanded by the autopilot and “which would not have been caught up by the crew”. But that “seems a little surprising given the duration of the fall, three minutes”. A “crew action” is also possible according to him but “nothing more can be said”. In any case, the expert has “never heard of any particular problem on this model of aircraft” and considers the level of security of Chinese civil aviation “completely excellent”.
The former director of the BEA therefore relies on the skills of the Chinese investigation office to identify the cause or causes of the crash. The flight recorders, “which normally survived this shock”, should make it possible to “precisely reconstruct the trajectory, but also the parameters of the aircraft, the pilots’ conversations” and “all the actions which may have been taken on the orders”.
Pending this crucial information, no report has yet been drawn up. The last major air accident in China dates back to August 2010. It killed 42 people.