WASHINGTON - US investigators probing the crash of a China Eastern Airlines jet are examining whether it was due to intentional action taken on the flight deck, with no evidence so far of a technical malfunction, two people briefed on the matter said.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday (May 17) that flight data from one of the plane's black boxes indicated that someone in the cockpit intentionally crashed the plane, citing people familiar with US officials' preliminary assessment.
If so, this would not be the first time a pilot has intentionally brought down a passenger plane.
Here are five past examples:
Germanwings Flight 9525 - March 24, 2015
Investigators believe the plane's co-pilot locked the pilot out of the cabin after the latter had left for some unknown reason.
The voice recorder indicated the co-pilot had been breathing up until the moment of the crash, suggesting he meant to destroy the plane, which was travelling from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.
The co-pilot had previously been treated for suicidal tendencies and declared "unfit to work" by his doctor.
The incident claimed the lives of all 150 people onboard.
Mozambique Airlines Flight TM470 - Nov 29, 2013
TM470 was bound for Angola from the Mozambican capital Maputo with 27 passengers and six crew members.
Aviation experts ruled that the pilot made a "deliberate series of manouevres" causing the crash, killing everyone onboard. The motives for his actions remained unclear.
EgyptAir Flight 990 - Oct 31, 1999
Similar to the Germanwings case, the captain of this flight from New York to Cairo was locked out of the cockpit after he left for the restroom.
A probe by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that after the captain left, the co-pilot was heard repeating "I rely on God" and moving the throttling levers to begin a steep descent.
All 202 passengers and 15 crew were killed when the plane crashed into the ocean. The NTSB's conclusion was that the co-pilot was responsible for the crash, but it could not say definitively why he made the plane crash.
Japan Air Lines Flight 350 - Feb 9, 1982
This flight fell short of landing on the main runway at Tokyo's Haneda Airport and crashed into Tokyo Bay around 270m from land. Of the 174 people onboard, 24 were killed.
Investigators blamed the captain's mental state for the crash, with the airlines' president at the time saying the pilot had had a "psychosomatic illness" just two years prior to the crash.
- Sources: MSNBC, VOX, CNN