Amazingly, authorities announced they have recovered what is believed to be the “black box” cockpit voice recorder from China Eastern Airlines Flight MU5735–the flight that nosedived into the ground on Monday, leaving no survivors.
CNBC reports that flight MU5735 left Kunming at 1:11 p.m. local time and was due to arrive at Guangzhou in southeast China at about 3:00 p.m.
“The plane was cruising at 29,100 feet and began a sharp descent after 2:20 p.m., recovering more than 1,000 feet briefly then resuming the dive before it lost contact. It fell more than 25,000 feet in about two minutes.”
The plane that crashed was a Boeing 737-800. The last seconds of the flight was caught on video.
CNN reports, “there are 4,502 of the 737-800s now in service worldwide, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium, making it by far the most common Boeing aircraft in use today.”
The New York Times reports: “The device recovered from the China Eastern Airlines plane was believed to be the cockpit voice recorder. The part of the device that stored the voice recordings wasn’t as badly damaged as the recorder itself.”
Bloomberg News reported: “The Boeing 737-800 was knifing through the air at more than 640 miles (966 kilometers) per hour, and at times may have exceeded 700 mph. Sound travels at 761 mph at sea level but slows with altitude as air temperature goes down and is about 663 mph at 35,000 feet.”
The Air Current noted that the fact that Flightradar24 was able to collect data from the flight as it rapidly descended indicates “the aircraft had electrical power and was able to broadcast tracking telemetry.”
Mike Daniel, a former Federal Aviation Administration accident investigator, noted that conducting a thorough investigation will take time, and that all possible factors will be considered:
“It really catches your eye when you see how rapidly the aircraft went from this horizontal flight,” Daniel said. “On any given investigation, you can’t rule out foul play at the very beginning. It was so abrupt that everything needs to be looked at.”
Australian aviation expert Neil Hansford offered some dark speculations:
“Even with total loss of power, no aircraft plummets to the ground from 20,000 feet in two minutes with an event at 8,000 feet. I think aircraft technical failure can be ruled out and it will be an external event.”
Hansford continued: “It is very unlikely the pilot passed out as the non-flying pilot would have been able to very safely take over the flying and land the aircraft. Likely scenarios include pilot suicide, aircraft mid-air collision with military aircraft (they don’t have transponders like civil aircraft), [flight MU5735] was struck by a missile or an on-board explosion.
“My tipping,” Hansford cocluded, “is a human-induced event or bought down by rogue missile. Debris looks like MH117 over Ukraine, and the Chinese are providing too much information this time which is uncharacteristic.”
This is a developing story.
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