China plane crash: Experts puzzled by sudden nosedive of ‘safest’ Boeing 737 jet

China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 crashed near Wuzhou en route from Kunming (KMG) to Guangzhou (CAN) on Monday, 21 March 2022. The flight was operated by a Boeing 737-800 registered B-1791.

Flight path of China Eastern MU5735

China Eastern Airlines MU5735

China Eastern Airlines flight 5735 was scheduled to depart Kunming at 13:10 local time (05:10 UTC) and arrive in Guangzhou at 15:05 local time.

MU5735 departed Kunming at 05:16 UTC and reached a cruising altitude of 29,100 feet at 05:27 UTC. The flight continued normally until 06:20 UTC when the aircraft began a rapid descent to 7425 ft AMSL before recovering to 8600 ft AMSL. The aircraft then descended rapidly again. The last ADS-B message received by Flightradar24 from MU5735 was at 06:22:35Z.972 UTC at an altitude of 3225 ft AMSL.

Granular ADS-B data

Flightradar24 collects raw ADS-B data from aircraft roughly twice per second. This data is then processed and displayed on the Flightradar24 website with reduced position frequency for data conservation purposes. The following chart is based on raw decoded data received from MU5735 and includes additional granular data beyond that available on the Flightradar24 history page for this flight. Please see below to download the granular data.

MU5735 Altitude Speed Vertical Rate Chart

The graph below depicts the final 150 seconds of data from the flight, beginning just before its first descent from 29100 feet.

The vertical rate reported as part of the ADS-B data comes directly from the aircraft’s computers and is the rate of change based on the aircraft’s sensors at the time of report.

MU5735 final 150 seconds Altitude Speed Vertical Rate Chart
MU5735 descent profile

MU5735 aircraft information

MU5735 was operated by a Boeing 737-800 registered B-1791 (MSN 41474 | L/N 5453). This 737 was delivered to China Eastern Airlines new in June 2015. It is powered by two CFM56-7B24 engines. This aircraft was not a 737 MAX and did not have MCAS installed.

B-1791 departing Kunming in November 2021