China plane crash: Boeing 737 suddenly nosedives from 29,000 feet

A surveillance clip confirms the plummet.
Ameya Paleja

While the world awaits news on the cause of the air crash in southern China, aviation experts believe that the plane nosedived to the ground from its cruising altitude of 29,000 feet, Bloomberg reported

A video clip reported to have been captured by a surveillance camera of a mining company closer to the accident site shows an aircraft plummeting to the ground. 

China Eastern Airlines's Boeing 737 aircraft was just 100 miles away (163 km) from its destination, and the aircraft nose-dived into the mountains instead of starting to descend slowly. 
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Airplanes often descend towards their destination at a few thousand feet per minute. If done well, this slowed-down approach towards the landing strip can be barely felt by passengers inside the aircraft. 

However, for those inside the ill-fated MU5735, the final moments must have been horrifying as the aircraft dropped to the ground from 29,000 feet in just over a minute. According to tracking data on FlightRadar24, the aircraft seems to have suddenly taken a downward turn at this altitude.

Past incidents of nose-diving aircraft

Since the aircraft's transponders were responsive till the end, experts believe that the Boeing 737 did not break up mid-flight, which is also shown in the unconfirmed footage.

Previous accidents that saw the aircraft nosedive included an Air France flight in 2009. The speed sensors of the aircraft froze and performed erratically, which led to a much slower nose-dive than that of the Chinese airliner. 

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A similar incident with a cargo plane in 2019 was the result of the pilot's disorientation, while another involving an Indonesian airline in 1997 was a deliberate attempt by the pilot, Bloomberg reported. 

Adding to the mystery is that the China Eastern aircraft seems to have recovered from its nose-dive for a few seconds before plunging steeply again. 

Aircraft are also designed to help pilots counter the effects of equipment malfunction. So, the crash is more likely to be a result of a combination of events such as major equipment malfunction as well as pilots being disoriented in a way to keep holding the aircraft's nose down while it continues to dive. 

More light on the cause of the mishap will only be shed once the data and voice recorders are recovered from the site. Chinese agencies haven't released any figures officially yet.