China is one of the largest aviation markets in the world, ranking third behind North America and Europe in terms of air travel. Several catastrophic crashes in the 1990s and 2000s resulted in a huge improvement in safety, and since 2010 there has been no commercial plane crash in the country with more than five fatalities. After years without a major air disaster, a China Eastern flight crashed on Monday with 132 people on board, including 123 passengers and 9 crew members.
While flying from Kunming in southwest Yunnan to the industrial hub of Guangzhou, a Boeing 737-800 crashed near Wuzhou in the Guangxi region. China is the world’s second largest economy just behind the United States. Economic growth and rising incomes in the region have fueled unprecedented growth in business and leisure travel. Here’s what you need to know about the Chinese aviation market:
Also Read: Airbus delivers India’s first Rs 100 crore H145 helicopter to billionaire CE
China Eastern is, along with Air China, China Southern Airlines and HNA Group, one of the four major state-owned carriers in China. Founded in 1995, the airline is headquartered at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Its fleet of 749 planes includes 291 of the Boeing 737 series, according to its mid-2021 interim report. The carrier has 79,913 employees, mostly in China. It carried 44.3 million passengers in the first half of 2021. China Eastern posted a loss of $850 million in the first half of 2021.
Carriers have suffered heavy financial losses as the government attempts to stamp out COVID-19 with a zero-tolerance strategy that bans most foreign visitors from China and has disrupted travel by temporarily suspending access to major cities. Passenger numbers in China surpassed the United States for the first time in 2020, according to Boeing Co. That’s partly because populous China reopened to domestic travel relatively quickly after the initial coronavirus outbreak. Boeing forecasts annual traffic growth of 5.4% and says China should account for one-sixth of future additional air capacity.
State media reported that all 737-800s in China Eastern’s fleet had been ordered to ground. Aviation experts said it is unusual to ground an entire fleet of planes unless there is evidence of a problem with the model. China has more 737-800s than any other country – nearly 1,200 – and if identical planes from other Chinese airlines are grounded, it could have a significant impact on domestic travel, the consultant said. IBA aviation.
An Embraer ERJ 190-100 operated by Henan Airlines and carrying a total of 96 passengers and crew hit the ground short of the runway on August 24, 2010, while landing in the northeast city of Yichun from the country. The accident killed 44 people after the fuel caught fire, while 52 people survived. Investigators blamed pilot error, who was landing at night and in reduced visibility.
China Eastern’s last fatal accident was in November 2004, when a CRJ-200 bomber plunged into a frozen lake just after takeoff from the Inner Mongolian city of Baotou, killing 53 people on board and two on the ground. The regulators blamed the ice that had accumulated on the wings.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China and China Eastern sent officials to the crash site. The US National Transportation Safety Board said a lead investigator had been selected to help, and the US Federal Aviation Administration, which certified the 737-800 in the 1990s, said it was ready to help if asked.
China is one of the most important markets for Boeing and its European rival Airbus Industries. They want Chinese carriers to boost sales as US and European demand flattens.
The ruling Communist Party wants to compete with them by manufacturing its own airliners and possibly exporting them.
The state-owned COMAC, or Commercial Aircraft Corp. Of China, launched a short-range airliner, the ARJ21, with seating for up to 105 passengers, and the larger but short-range C919 with up to 190 seats. The company says it is working on a long-haul twin-aisle aircraft, the C929, that can carry up to 290 passengers.
With AP inputs