On March 21, 2022, a Boeing 737 with 132 people on board crashed in southern China. The exact death toll is unknown at the time of writing, but media reports have stated there were “no signs of survivors”.
Reuters writes: “A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 (600115.SS) with 132 people on board crashed into the mountains in southern China on Monday during a domestic flight after a sudden drop in cruising altitude. According to the media, there were no signs of survivors.”
In the immediate aftermath of this tragic crash, a video began to circulate online that supposedly showed a passenger’s view as the plane crashed.
As noted by BBC’s disinformation reporter Alistair Coleman, this isn’t an actual crash video, it’s a flight simulation video.
The clip shown above was shot in 2019 after 157 people were killed when an Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed en route to Kenya. The video was posted by “Bull Bosphorus” on YouTube, along with a disclaimer explaining that this was a “simulation” made with “X-Plane 11 Flight Simulator” and not an actual video of the crash.
While this video carried a caption that labeled it flight simulation footage, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported in 2019 that clips of this video were circulated as if they were real in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
A video purporting to show the view from the cockpit when Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed on March 10 has been viewed 10,000 times on Facebook. The video is in fact an animation that comes from a YouTube channel that specializes in flight simulations.
Incorrectly captioned or edited images are often distributed in the wake of tragic events when people are more susceptible to emotionally charged content when seeking information online. For example, in the days following the Ethiopian Airlines crash, a number of manipulated and mis-captioned videos circulated online. In addition to the flight simulation video clip shown above, a year-old video of a plane crash was incorrectly captioned and shared as if it were related to the 2019 crash.
No survivors as Ethiopian Airlines crashes with 157 on board. https://news.yahoo.com/no-survivors-ethiopian-airlines-crashes-157-aboard-114108493.html. Accessed March 21, 2022.
Reuters. “Chinese Boeing jet crashes into mountains with 132 on board, no sign of survivors.” Reuters, March 21, 2022. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-eastern-airlines-passenger-jet-has-accident-guangxi-state-media-says-2022 – 03-21/.
“This ‘video’ of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash? It’s a simulation.” Fact Check, March 13, 2019, https://factcheck.afp.com/video-ethiopian-airlines-plane-crash-its-simulation.
Xiong, Yong, et al. “Chinese Airplane with 132 People on Board Crashes in the Southern Region of Guangxi.” CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/21/china/china-plane-crash-guangxi-intl-hnk/index.html. Accessed March 21, 2022.