A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800, flight MU5735, with 123 passengers and nine crew onboard has crashed in a mountainous region of southern China. Early reports suggest that there are no survivors, while Chinese state television reported, citing China Eastern Airlines, that there were no foreigners on the flight. As a consequence, China Eastern Airlines has grounded all 109 of its fleet of Boeing 737-800 jets.
The China Eastern Airways jet was on a domestic flight en route from Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province in south-western China, to Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong. Having taken off at 1.11 p.m. (all times provided are local time) the 737-800 was due to arrive at Guangzhou at 3.05 p.m. However, according to FlightRadar24, at 2.20 pm the six-year-old jet began a rapid descent at 31,000 feet per minute. The plane had been cruising at 29,100 feet at 2:20 pm. Just over two minutes and 15 seconds later, data showed it had descended to 9,075 feet. Twenty seconds later, its last tracked altitude was 3,225 feet.
According to both China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the airline confirmed that contact with the plane had been lost over the city of Suzhou. At the time, online weather data indicated that conditions were partly cloudy with good visibility. It was only in December 2021 that the Chinese aviation regulator cleared the 737-MAX to return to the skies after two fatal crashes, subject to technical upgrades and additional pilot training.
China has launched an investigation into the crash and while the cause of the crash is still unknown, in the meantime one of the two blackboxes has been found.