In the last few moments, it’s been confirmed a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 passenger jet has been involved in a crash en route from Kunming to Guangzhou, in China.
China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 was operating an afternoon passenger service with 132 onboard. China’s government has confirmed the “accident in a mountain range” in Tengxian, Guangxi. China’s civil aviation authority has said of the 132 people onboard, 9 were crew members and 123 passengers.
The aircraft involved is a young, 6-year old Boeing 737-800 — not to be confused with the newer Boeing 737 Max.
The Boeing 737-800 is one of the world’s most popular, best-selling airline jets for short-haul and mid-haul flights, and over 5,000 of this specific variant (the -800) have been delivered by Boeing to airline customers worldwide. The 737-800 is in service with airlines including American Airlines, Ryanair, FlyDubai, Qantas, Ethiopian Airlines, and KLM.
China Eastern Airlines has announced it has grounded all of its Boeing 737-800 passenger jets following the crash, the airline has 102 of this variant of the 737.
The image below shows China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 last known position, per flightradar24. The black line en route indicates where tracking data (ADS-B) was unavailable, which is quite normal across many areas of China. Once tracking data was available again (where the coloured line resumes) a sudden, extremely sharp descent was recorded above a mountainous area shortly after.
CCTV footage is being shared across social media channels showing an aircraft in a horrifying nosedive over a mountainous area. The footage is being shared by some reputable media outlets, but at this point it must be noted that it cannot be verified.
China Eastern Airlines is one of the three major airlines in China, with hubs at Shanghai's Pudong and Hongqiao airports, as well as Kunming Airport in southwest China - where this flight departed.
The airline operates a fleet of young Airbus and Boeing aircraft to destinations in Australia, South Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States. China Eastern Airlines is part of the SkyTeam alliance.
The crash looks set to become one of China’s worst-ever air disasters.
For context, China has among the best airline safety record in the world, operating a young fleet of aircraft predominantly from Boeing and Airbus. China’s busy domestic market operates within the rules and regulations of a very strict regulator, and prior to the COVID19 pandemic, China would operate around 10,000 daily domestic flights.
The last fatal jet accident was over a decade ago, back in 2010.
China Eastern Airlines’ website is now in black and white, as is often the case following a tragedy in the aviation industry.
"The CAAC has activated the emergency mechanism and sent a working group to the scene" China’s civil aviation authority said in a statement.
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