Chinese jet crashes with 132 on board, no sign of survivors

After a precipitous dive from cruising altitude, a China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS) Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed in the mountains of southern China on a domestic flight on Monday. There were no survivors, according to the media.

The airline expressed its condolences to the passengers and crew, but did not say how many people were killed.

Brief highway video footage from a vehicle’s dashcam appeared to show a jet plunging to the earth behind trees at an angle of roughly 35 degrees off vertical, according to Chinese media.

When the plane crashed, it was in route from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong.

According to flight tracking website FlightRadar24, the plane dropped at 31,000 feet per minute. China Eastern said the reason of the disaster was under investigation.

The airline said it set up a hotline for relatives of those on board and dispatched a team to the crash site. According to China Eastern and Chinese official television, there were no foreigners aboard the flight.

According to the media, the plane collapsed and ignited a fire that destroyed bamboo trees. A provincial firefighting department official was quoted in the People’s Daily as claiming that there was no trace of life among the rubble.

A chunk of the jet was seen on a damaged, earthen hillside, according to state media. There were no signs of a fire or personal items.

The plane, which was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members, lost communication over Wuzhou, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the airline.

According to FlightRadar24 data, the flight left Kunming at 1:11 p.m. (0511 GMT) and was scheduled to arrive in Guangzhou at 3:05 p.m. (0705 GMT).

At 0620 GMT, the jet, which Flightradar24 claimed was six years old, was travelling at 29,100 feet. Data revealed it had dropped to 9,075 feet in just over two minutes and 15 seconds.

Its last tracked altitude was 3,225 feet after 20 seconds.

Even though the cruising phase of a flight accounts for the majority of the flight time, crashes are uncommon. According to Boeing, just 13 percent of fatal commercial accidents occurred during the cruise phase between 2011 and 2020, compared to 28 percent on final approach and 26 percent on landing.

“During the cruise stage, the plane is usually on autopilot. As a result, it’s difficult to comprehend what occurred “a Chinese aviation specialist, Li Xiaojin, said

At the time of the crash, online weather data in Wuzhou showed partly cloudy skies with good visibility.

According to state broadcaster CCTV, President Xi Jinping has asked investigators to discover the reason of the crash as quickly as possible.

“We are aware of the early media allegations and are attempting to obtain further information,” a Boeing representative said.

At 1455 GMT, shares of Boeing Co (BA.N) were down 5%.

Following the announcement of the crash, China Eastern Airlines’ Hong Kong shares fell 6.5 percent, while its U.S.-listed shares fell 17 percent in premarket trade.

Following the tragedy, China Eastern grounded its 737-800 planes, according to official media. According to FlightRadar24, China Eastern has 109 of the planes in its fleet.

China Eastern Airlines, according to aviation data supplier OAG, is the world’s sixth-largest carrier by scheduled weekly seat capacity.

The 737-800 has a solid safety record and is the forerunner of the 737 MAX, which has been grounded in China for more than three years following tragic incidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

For a decade, China’s aviation safety record has been among the finest in the world.

“The CAAC has very strict safety requirements, so we’ll just have to wait for more facts,” Shukor Yusof, the head of Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics, said.

To learn more about the crash, investigators will look for the plane’s black boxes, which include the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States indicated it was willing to help China with its probe if asked.

According to Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor at industry publication Flightglobal, China’s aviation safety record, while solid, is less transparent than in nations like the United States and Australia, where regulators disclose full records on non-fatal occurrences.

“There have been fears that safety lapses on the mainland are underreported,” he said.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, China’s most recent fatal jet accident occurred in 2010, when an Embraer E-190 regional plane operated by Henan Airlines crashed on approach to Yichun airport, killing 44 of the 96 people on board.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, in 1994, a China Northwest Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 travelling from Xian to Guangzhou crashed, killing all 160 people on board in China’s worst-ever flight catastrophe.

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