Guangzhou, China, March 21 (Reuters) – China Eastern Airlines (600115SS) A Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed into a domestic plane in the mountains of southern China on Monday. The media reported that there were no signs of survival.
The airline said it would extend its deepest condolences to passengers and crew, not to mention how many were killed. Boeing (BA.N) He said China was ready to help the East and was in contact with US traffic safety regulators over the incident.
Chinese media took brief highway video footage from a vehicle’s dashcam showing a jet diving behind trees at a vertical 35-degree angle. Reuters could not immediately verify the footage.
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The plane was flying from the southwestern city of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, on the border with Hong Kong when it crashed.
China Eastern said the cause of the crash was under investigation, according to flight surveillance website FlightRadar24.
The airline said it had provided a hotline for relatives of those on board and sent a crew to the site. Chinese state television quoted China Eastern as saying that there were no foreigners on the plane.
Relatives, friends and colleagues of the passengers gathered in the encircled area of Guangzhou Bayon International Airport, the destination of the jet, late on Monday.
A man by the surname Yan said there was a co-worker on the plane and he notified his 29-year-old mother.
“She’s suffocating when she picks up the phone,” he said, adding that he was “heartbroken” when he heard the news.
Yan said China East staff were making arrangements for relatives who wanted to travel to the crash site on Tuesday. Reuters was unable to independently verify Yan’s identity.
The plane, with 123 passengers and nine crew on board, lost contact with the city of Wuzhou, according to China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the airline.
The flight took off from Kunming at 1:11 pm (0511 GMT), FlightRadar24 data showed, and was scheduled to land in Guangzhou at 3:05 pm (0705 GMT).
Flightradar24 said it was six years old, flying at 29,100 feet at 0620 GMT. After two minutes and 15 seconds, the data showed that it had dropped below 9,075 feet.
Twenty seconds later, its last observed height was 3,225 feet.
The media quoted a rescue official as saying the plane crashed and the fire destroyed bamboo trees. The People’s Daily quoted a provincial fire department official as saying there was no sign of life in the rubble.
State media showed part of the plane in a scarred, muddy area. There were no signs of fire or personal possessions.
Accidents during the flight phase of flights are relatively rare, although this period covers most flight times.
Boeing claimed that between 2011 and 2020, 13% of all tragic business accidents worldwide occurred during shipping, while 28% occurred during final approaches and 26% during landing.
“Usually the plane is on an autopilot during the flight. So it is very difficult to understand what happened,” said Chinese aviation expert Li Xiaojin.
Online weather data showed a partly cloudy weather with good visibility in Wuzhou at the time of the crash.
State broadcaster CCTV reported that President Xi Jinping had called on investigators to quickly determine the cause of the crash.
Boeing said in a statement that its thoughts were with passengers and crew.
“Boeing is in contact with the US National Transport Safety Board and our technicians are ready to assist in the investigation led by China’s Civil Aviation Administration,” the company said.
A source close to the matter told Reuters that Boeing had canceled a meeting of its senior executives scheduled for this week in Miami to focus on the investigation and China Eastern Airlines.
Shares of Boeing fell 4% at 19:15 GMT. Shares of China Eastern Airlines in Hong Kong fell 6.5% after news of the crash, while its US-listed shares fell 17% in premarket trading.
State media reported that China Eastern landed its 737-800 aircraft after the crash. According to Flight Radar 24, China Eastern has 109 aircraft in its fleet.
This month, OAG, the aviation data provider, became the sixth largest airline in the world by state-owned China Eastern Airlines in terms of planned weekly seating capacity.
The 737-800 has a good safety record and is the precursor to the 737 MAX model that landed in China more than three years after the crash in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
China’s air defense record has been the best in the world for a decade.
“The CAAC has very strict safety regulations and we will wait for more details,” said Shukor Youssef, head of Endow Analytics, a Malaysian-based aviation consultancy.
To shed light on the crash, investigators will search the aircraft’s black boxes – aircraft data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
Plane crash investigations are usually led by the country of the crash and involve the origin of the aircraft, so U.S. investigators are expected to join the US-made Boeing jet investigation.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says it is ready to assist China’s investigation if asked.
China’s air defense record, while good, is less transparent than in countries such as the United States and Australia, where regulators publish detailed reports of dangerous incidents, said Greg Waltron, Asia’s executive editor at industry publication Flight Global.
“There are concerns that some security vulnerabilities are low on the mainland,” he said.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, China’s last dangerous jet crash was in 2010, when the Henan Airlines Flying Embraer E-190 crashed near the regional Jet Yichun Airport, killing 44 of the 96 people on board.
In 1994, China’s northwestern airline Tupolev Tu-154 was flying from Xi’an to Guangzhou, killing 160 people on board in China’s worst plane crash, according to the Air Defense Network.
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Reported by Jamie Fried in Beijing and Shanghai newsrooms and Sydney; Additional Report by David Shepherdson in Washington; Written by Robert Brussel, Nick McPhee and Rami Job; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Hugh Lawson
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