Flight 5735 pilot ‘may have regained consciousness’ before crash, aviation expert says

China: Boeing 737 plane crashes near Wuzhou

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The Boeing 737-800 of China Eastern Airlines crashed in mountains in southern China on a domestic flight from Kunming to Guangzhou, on Monday. Rescuers found no survivors among the 123 passengers and nine crews that were on board at the time of the crash. Analysing the data from the flight, aviation expert Sally Gethin suggests that passengers must have been knocked out by the g-force during the vertical fall of the plane.

However, she says that the route that the plane took indicates that one or more of the pilots might have regained consciousness and tried to save the plane in the last few seconds.

The plane flew at 29,000 feet and was nearing its destination when it suddenly began to lose altitude until it crashed on the ground within two minutes.

There was a brief ascent in altitude at about 8,000 feet, which indicates a “10 to 20-second spell where one or more of the pilots regained consciousness and tried to save the plane,” Gethin told the Sun.

Although Ms Gethin noted that all the people on board would have been unconscious at the time of the crash.

Reports say that there were three pilots on the plane, two of which were very experienced, while the third one was a trainee.

A co-pilot had 30,000 hours of flight experience, and the pilot himself had 7,000, which Ms Gethin says is “unusual”.

Footage of the crash shows the shocking freefall that the plane went into before hitting the ground, causing a mountain fire near the city of Wuzhou in the Guangxi Zhuang region.

China Eastern Airlines acknowledged the tragic accident with a brief statement saying: “Our thoughts are with the passengers and crew of China Eastern Airlines Flight MU 5735.

China plane crash: CCTV appears to show flight’s 'final seconds'

Crash site of China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735

“We are working with our airline customer and are ready to support them.

“Boeing is in contact with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and our technical experts are prepared to assist with the investigation led by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.”

The airline has since grounded all of its Boeing 737-800 planes.

The cause of the plane crash remains unknown as the investigation develops, and Ms Gethin says it is too soon to speculate about it.

She noted: “The 737-800 has a particularly good safety record.

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“There are thousands of them operating around the world, about 1,000 in China alone.”

However, she added: “But the fact that China Eastern Airlines is grounding all of those planes from the fleet as a precaution suggests they’re concerned about the safety of that aircraft.”

Gethin explained that the plane’s rapid descent could have been due to a malfunction with its tail.

She said: “If the tail sheared off before the nosedive, the plane would lose all aerodynamics – it can’t operate properly without the rudder in the tail. Nothing can be ruled out at this stage.”

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