Captain Byron Bailey is an Australian aviation expert. He is a commercial pilot with more than 45 years’ experience.
In an interview with Sky News Australia, Bailey suggested that one co-pilot of the Boeing 737-800 decided to take revenge on China Eastern Airlines. The reason might be that the co-pilot had been downgraded from a high-time captain to a co-pilot.
The expert added that the flight data recorder showed somebody pushing the control column forward, leading to the crash. He explained that this was an intentional act and the co-pilot might be the culprit.
The Boeing 737-800 was traveling from Kunming to Guangzhou on March 21 when it suddenly nosedived at an almost vertical angle. It pulled up for a moment before eventually plunging down into a hillside in Guangxi province, killing all 132 people on board.
This is China’s worst aviation disaster in almost 3 decades.
According to Captain Byron Bailey, a Chinese aviation source had told him that one co-pilot was once a “high time captain” but had been “busted back to co-pilot.” So his payoff dropped to a quarter compared to before. And this is obviously the loss of face and the shame.
The veteran pilot explained that that’s why this co-pilot decided to take revenge on China Eastern.
A Wall Street Journal article in March, citing Chinese state-run magazine Phoenix Weekly, confirmed this information. The article identifies the captain as 32-year-old Yang Hongda. Meanwhile, the first officer is 59-year-old Zhang Zhengping. Zhang Zhengping is a five-star pilot nearing retirement.
According to a profile published by China Aviation News, the industry’s official newspaper, Zhang Zhengping was among the first batch of pilots to be trained to fly commercial aircraft in China.
He had logged more than 30,000 hours of flying time “without a human error” and trained more than 100 captains for China Eastern, including the captain Yang Hongda.
On his last flight, Zhang Zhengping took the role as co-pilot, while his student, Yang Hongda, was the captain.
Captain Byron Bailey said that in 95% of all plane accidents, there would be some pilot factor involved.
But in these cases where the suicide murder… They all have motives, and perhaps you should look closely at the mental attitude of some of the pilots.”
Captain Bailey’s comment comes after a recent report by Wall Street Journal about the crash.
The report, citing people familiar with U.S. officials’ preliminary assessment of the crash, said that someone in the cockpit controlled the jet to plunge down in its final moment.
One source told Reuters independently that investigators are looking at the possibility that someone in the crew caused the plane to crash with a “voluntary” act.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the country’s air-safety regulator, released a preliminary report 30 days after the crash in April. The agency denied rumors of a deliberate crash. It said investigators found no evidence of “anything abnormal.”
However, the Chinese civil aviation authority also said that at the plane’s last moment, air traffic control noticed the plane’s sudden decrease in altitude. They called the crew but did not receive any response.
An investigation could take two or more years before we get to the final cause of the crash.
After the Wall Street Journal report spread, Chinese authorities quickly blocked relevant reports in the U.S. media.
Netizens said even the screenshots of the report are censored off Weibo, WeChat, and other Chinese social platforms.
Keywords like “China Eastern Airlines” and “China Eastern Airlines Black Box” and any news about the plane from U.S. media reports have basically disappeared. What’s left is the report from state-run media denying rumors, such as one in Global Times.