People familiar with the matter said the plane was cruising at a high altitude when it unexpectedly spiraled into a nosedive and slammed into the side of a mountain. They said black box data recovered from the crash suggest someone in the cockpit inputted data that made the plane dive.
"The plane did what it was told to do by someone in the cockpit," said the person familiar with American officials' examination of the black box.
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Now the investigation has shifted to the pilots, the person said, adding that someone else on the plane could've broken into the cockpit and deliberately crashed it.
Accident investigations can take a while to conclude the crash's causes and contributing factors, but China Eastern has begun returning 737-800s to the skies after grounding its entire fleet for about a month after the crash.