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China accident mystery deepens as evidence points to break in the air

A piece about 1.3 m long and 10 cm wide that presumably came from the plane was found on farmland.

At least one piece of the Boeing Co. 737-800 that crashed in China appears to have erupted long before the impact, a finding that adds mystery to the plane’s fatal dive.

The piece allegedly from China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. jet was found about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the main wreckage area, Chinese officials said during a briefing on Thursday.

If investigators confirm that part of the jet was coming from, it would indicate that the plane had suffered some sort of crash in the air, which could provide clues as to what led to Monday’s crash or at least shed light on the flight. ‘s last seconds.

“The questions are: exactly what piece was it and when did it come off?” said Jeff Guzzetti, the former head of accident investigations at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Flight 5735 from Kunming to Guangzhou went off without an emergency radio call from pilots and hit a wooded hill about 100 miles from its destination, according to the China Civil Aviation Administration. There were 132 people on board.

The highly unusual dive stunned accident investigators and safety experts. Aircraft like the 737-800 are designed not to dive as aggressively, so some kind of aircraft failure or pilot action will be needed to keep its nose down for so long.

A piece about 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) long and 10 centimeters (4 inches) wide, presumably from the plane, was found on farmland, Zheng Xi, head of the Guangxi firefighting rescue team, said during ‘ said an information session.

It is impossible to know at this early stage of the investigation whether the piece became detached due to tension during the high-speed dive or broke off before the sudden descent.

Guzzetti said this most likely occurred when the plane descended from a cruising altitude of about 29,000 feet within about 1 minute and 35 seconds.

“In my opinion, it’s the plane that throws off parts as it comes off,” he said.

If so, it will provide clues about the aircraft’s speed and possible pilot maneuvers.

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The plane did not completely break apart. It continued to transmit its position until it reached 3,225 feet, according to data collected by the Flightradar24 tracking service, indicating that the main structure remained intact.

A Bloomberg News review of Flightradar24 data showed that the jet flew much higher than normal speed during the dive, possibly near the speed of sound.

Riding so fast on a jet not designed for such speeds can cause relatively lightweight components to break loose on wings and tail sections, according to an investigation into the SilkAir 737-300 crash on 19 December 1997 in Indonesia .

The jet traveled near the speed of sound as it plunged into a river, investigators concluded. The Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee said there was not enough evidence to say what caused the accident, but the NTSB disagreed, saying the captain most likely did it on purpose in a homicide-suicide.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by techlives staff and is being published from a syndicated stream.)

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