A rescue team found the black box in late March, just days after the crash occurred. The box was buried underground about 130 feet away from the destroyed plane, where firefighters also recovered a voice recorder essential to understanding what occurred inside the cockpit. US officials have been assisting Chinese authorities investigate the crash since the beginning. According to sources familiar with the American government’s portion of the matter, data extracted from the black box shows control inputs drove the plane into a near-vertical dive. “The plane did what it was told to do by someone in the cockpit,” they told The Wall Street Journal.
China Eastern has been saying since March that its pilots didn’t have any known financial, family, and health concerns prior to the incident, which makes uncovering a motive for an intentional plane crash a bit more challenging. Though it’s possible someone from the cabin entered the cockpit and initiated the nosedive, the airline says the odds are slim. A spokesperson pointed to a news conference from March 25 in which Chinese investigators said no emergency signal had been sent from the plane prior to or during the crash. Chinese authorities have also failed to uncover any technical aircraft issues in the two months since the crash occurred.
Given the Boeing 737 line’s general controversy, it was at first suspected that the plane’s technical elements could have been responsible for the crash. While the United States’ assessment hasn’t entirely negated that possibility—it is a preliminary assessment, after all—it appears unlikely that this is the case. The Boeing aircraft that have made headlines in recent years have been 737 MAX jets, which were Revealed in 2020 to have been carelessly engineered and constructed. These are different from the type of jet (737-800) involved in flight MU5735, which has been considered highly dependable since its release nearly three decades ago. On top of that, we now have reason to believe the crash occurred due to external forces rather than issues inherent to the plane itself.
This isn’t the last we’ll hear regarding flight MU5735. Chinese authorities are continuing to probe the crash with US investigators’ assistance, and analyzes of black box and voice recorder data are reportedly still underway.
MU5735 is not the only aircraft that may have embarked on a suicide flight in the past few years. The disappearance of MH370 has never been conclusively solved, but the leading theory is that the pilot deliberately flew into the Indian Ocean.