FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show China Eastern Airlines Flight MU5735 Missing Part Of Its Tail?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook shared over 1,600 times allegedly shows Chinese flight MU5735 nose-diving towards the ground while missing its tailpiece.

Verdict: False

The image is a screen grab of a digital simulation of SilkAir Flight MI 185, which crashed in 1997. It has nothing to do with the recent airplane crash in China.

Fact Check:

China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 crashed March 21 into a mountainside in Guangxi, killing all 132 passengers, according to The Guardian. Two black boxes from the plane have been recovered and an investigation into the crash is ongoing, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

The Facebook image appears to show a plane nose-diving towards the ground with its tail missing. “#MU5735,” the post’s caption claims. “As seen on close up footage of the crash, vertical stabilizer (tail) of aircraft had been detached,” claiming the plane was falling at 31,000 feet per minute at the time of the crash.

The image is not a legitimate photo of the crash. A reverse image search revealed the screen grab actually comes from a digital flight simulation, as seen in a video shared Feb. 9 to YouTube titled “SilkAir Flight 185 – Crash Animation.” The clip originated from an episode of the documentary series “Mayday” that focused on the crash of SilkAir Flight 185 in December 1997.

The plane was heading for Singapore from Jakarta, Indonesia, when the plane made a sudden steep descent, crashing into the Musi River, according to a 2000 New York Times article. Some officials have suggested that the pilot committed suicide by crashing the plane intentionally after it was discovered that voice and flight recorders were shut off moments before the incident occurred, the outlet reported.

In an emailed statement to Check Your Fact, Vanessa Marra, senior publicity manager at Cineflix Media Inc., said, “Cineflix confirms that the screengrab came from documentary series Mayday: Air Disaster Season 12 Episode 4 featuring SilkAir Flight 185.”

Legitimate footage of the MU5735 crash can be seen in articles published by The Wall Street JournalUSA Today and Bloomberg, which shows the plane nose-diving towards the ground moments before impact. (RELATED: Does This Video Show Footage From Inside A Plane Moments Before It Crashed In China?)

This is not the first time a simulation of a plane crash has been misattributed to the recent Chinese airplane incident. Check Your Fact recently debunked a similar video that claimed to show the inside of the airplane moments before it crashed.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter