Emergency workers at the site of the China Eastern Airlines plane crash
Flight data indicates a China Eastern Airlines plane that crashed in March was intentionally put into a nose-dive, according to US media reports.
Investigators have so far not found any mechanical or technical faults with the jet, the reports say, citing a preliminary assessment by US officials.
The Boeing 737-800 was flying between the southern Chinese cities of Kunming and Guangzhou when it crashed.
All 132 passengers and crew onboard the plane died in the crash.
“The plane did what it was told to do by someone in the cockpit,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story, citing a person familiar with US officials’ preliminary assessment of the cause of the crash.
Data from one of the plane’s “black box” flight recorders, which was recovered from the crash site, suggested that inputs to the controls pushed the plane into a near-vertical dive, the report said.
ABC News, citing US officials, also reported that the crash was believed to have been caused by an intentional act.
Investigators looking into the crash are examining whether it was due to intentional action on the flight deck, with no evidence found of a technical malfunction, according to Reuters, which cited two people briefed on the matter.
China Eastern Airlines recently said the three pilots on board were qualified and healthy.
The carrier independently told the Wall Street Journal that there was no sign that any of the pilots was in monetary difficulty.
China Eastern Airlines didn’t quickly answer a BBC demand for input.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), which is driving examinations concerning the accident, likewise didn’t promptly answer a BBC demand for input.
Last month, the CAAC said reports that the plane might have been crashed intentionally had “seriously deceived people in general” and “disrupted mishap examination work”.
Examiners are still the time spent breaking down flight information and the destruction from the accident, Chinese state news source the Global Times investigated Wednesday.
It additionally said the CAAC will proceed to “complete the mishap examination in a logical, thorough and organized way”.
The Chinese government office in Washington, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and plane creator Boeing declined to remark on the Wall Street Journal’s report, because of rules set out by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.
“Under the standards concerning crash examinations… just the examining office can remark on an outside mishap examination,” a Boeing representative told the BBC on Wednesday. The organization recently said it was helping examinations in China and speaking with the NTSB.
Chinese airlines generally have a good safety record – the last major accident took place 12 years ago.
The China Eastern Airlines plane that crashed was less than seven years old.