New information released by Chinese investigators gives some clues about what may have caused the crash of the China Eastern Airlines flight. It suggests that one piece of the airplane broke loose well before impact potentially leading to the disaster.
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The first conclusive information about the situation involving China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 which crashed into the Guangxi Mountains on Monday, killing all 132 passengers and crew members on board and ending China’s 12-year streak of no passenger airliner crashes has been announced by Chinese authorities. Their mysterious announcement, unfortunately, raises more questions than it answers.
According to Bloomberg, at least one piece of the Boeing Co. 737-800 appears to have broken loose well before impact, possibly in mid-flight, potentially leading in the deadly disaster, which happened before the plane’s pilots had time to send an emergency signal to air traffic control.
Authorities did not specify which piece had broken off, only that it had been discovered some 6 miles away from the main wreckage area.
Assuming investigators confirm that the part came from the plane (which would be a bit of a coincidence if it didn’t), this would indicate that the plane broke up in mid-flight, which could reveal details about what caused Monday’s crash – or at the very least shed light on the flight’s final moments.
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According to Jeff Guzzetti, a former chief of accident investigations at the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, “The questions are: exactly what piece was it and when did it come off?”
Aviation safety experts have been mystified by the plane’s peculiar arc of descent and the suddenness with which it occurred.
At this early stage in the investigation, it’s impossible to say whether the component came away as a result of stress during the high-speed plummet or broke off prior to the abrupt descent.
The component snapped off as the plane dropped from its cruise altitude of around 29,000 feet in about 1 minute and 35 seconds, according to the most plausible scenario.
“In my view, that’s the aircraft shedding parts as it’s coming down,” Guzzetti added.
Search and rescue teams have discovered 183 pieces of wreckage, but heavy rain has slowed efforts to locate the plane’s second black box, and its cockpit voice recorder was discovered to be seriously damaged, making data retrieval unlikely. Human remains were also discovered at the site, confirming that no survivors had been located.