Rescuers have recovered one of the black boxes from the China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 that was caught on camera earlier this week crashing vertically into a mountain range, leaving no known survivors.
“The device recovered from the China Eastern Airlines plane was believed to be the cockpit voice recorder,” The New York Times reported. “The part of the device that stored the voice recordings wasn’t as badly damaged as the recorder itself.”
Flightradar24 released data from the Monday flight that showed the aircraft was cruising at just over 29,000 feet when it then plunged more than 20,000 feet in less than a minute before later slamming into the mountains of southern China.
“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,” Bloomberg News reported. “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 plunged toward the ground means “the aircraft had electrical power and was able to broadcast tracking telemetry.”
“It really catches your eye when you see how rapidly the aircraft went from this horizontal flight,” Mike Daniel, a former Federal Aviation Administration accident investigator, said. “On any given investigation, you can’t rule out foul play at the very beginning,” he said. “It was so abrupt that everything needs to be looked at.”
Australian aviation expert Neil Hansford said that he does not believe that the plane crashed due to any kind of technical issue.
“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,” Hansford said. “I think aircraft technical failure can be ruled out and it will be an external event … I would get on a Boeing 737-800 in an instant with an Australian carrier, so my suggestion would be it won’t be Boeing or aircraft technical related.”
“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,” he continued. “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 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.”
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