By Scott Hamilton
March 21, 2022, © Leeham News: A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 (Flight number MYU5735) crashed today while enroute to Guangzhou. All 132 people on board were killed.
For those likely to jump the gun, it is important to note that this 737 was a Next Generation model, not the MAX. The accident airplane was delivered new to the airline in 2015.
A screenshot of a Chinese CCTV video believed to show China Eastern MU5735 moments before crashing near Guangzhou.
According to flight tracking radar images, the flight was at cruising altitude when it nosed over into a vertical dive. A photo circulating on Twitter shows the airplane in a vertical position moments before the crash.
No conclusions may be drawn about the cause of the crash based on the sketchy information available. As a matter of routine investigative procedures, the following will be areas of inquiry, in no particular order:
Areas of investigation
- Weather: was the aircraft flying through a storm? The Chinese CCTV photo appears to show a dark cloudy area, but the photo is a screen shot. In any event, was weather, or clear air turbulence, a factor? And, is the photo authenticated?
- Sabotage or another criminal event: When an aircraft goes vertical from cruising altitude, sabotage, cockpit intrusion or even pilot suicide will be an area of investigation.
- Catastrophic mechanical failure: The photo of the airplane in a vertical position shows the airplane in the far distance. No detail can be seen whether a tail section, wing or engine separated from the airplane. There is no smoke of fire visible, however.
- Some other kind of mechanical failure that caused a control issue.
- The mechanical/airworthiness condition of the airplane.
- The health (mental and physical) of the pilots.