China Eastern Airlines
China Eastern Airlines iStock

Investigators probing the crash of a China Eastern Airlines jet in March 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 Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Tuesday that flight data from one the Boeing 737-800's black boxes indicated that someone in the cockpit intentionally crashed the plane, citing people familiar with US officials' preliminary assessment.

Boeing, the maker of the jet, and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) declined to comment and referred questions to Chinese regulators.

The Boeing 737-800 was making its way from Kunming to Guangzhou when it crashed on March 21 in the mountains of Guangxi, after a sudden plunge from cruising altitude, killing all 123 passengers and nine crew members aboard.

The pilots did not respond to repeated calls from air traffic controllers and nearby planes during the rapid descent, authorities have said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China said on April 11 in response to rumors on the internet of a deliberate crash that the speculation had "gravely misled the public" and "interfered with the accident investigation work."

China Eastern said in a statement quoted by The Wall Street Journal that no evidence had emerged that could determine whether or not there were any problems with the accident aircraft. The Chinese Embassy declined to comment.