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How Did China Eastern Airlines Flight MU5735 Crash? Here Is What We Know So Far

Nearly three days after the China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 came crashing to the ground, the search for clues into the cause of the accident has not gotten anywhere so far.

The Boeing 737-800 took off from the city of Kunming in the Yunnan province for Guangzhao city in the southeastern Guangdong province. Usually, this flight gets completed in under two hours and the distance is 675 miles, but on March 21st, the aircraft crashed after nearly an hour of flight. 

Around the time of the crash, it should have begun its descent towards its destination. Instead, the aircraft nosedived towards the mountains in Teng country in Guanxi province.

According to the NYT, just three percent of fatal accidents occur during this phase of an aircraft’s flight. The plane was cruising at 29,000 feet at 2:17 pm local time (0617 GMT) but was found to have suddenly lost altitude within the next few minutes. Attempts by the air traffic controllers to contact the plane received no answer and the plane’s radar signal was lost by 2:23 pm (0623 GMT). 

According to data from Flightradar24, the plane dropped towards the ground at a rate of over 30,000 feet per minute. At this rate, it is possible that the passengers were flung to the aircraft’s ceiling and then suddenly pinned to their seats as the aircraft briefly recovered from the nosedive and climbed a thousand feet within 10 seconds.

Firefighters put out the fire caused by the crash within a few hours.

It is hard to find fault with Boeing’s 737-800 aircraft, which has been the workhorse of the commercial aviation sector since the late 1990s when its production began. Over 5,000 aircraft have been built so far with a good safety record. 

Since Monday, relatives of passengers have been arriving at the Guangzhou airport where the ill-fated aircraft was due to land around 3 pm local time (0705 GMT). The airline has set up an emergency task force to handle inquiries and made arrangements for them to stay in nearby hotel rooms. One of the black box recorders of the aircraft has since also been recovered.