No survivors found . . .
A China Eastern Airlines commercial jet carrying 132 passengers and crew members crashed in a remote mountainous region of Guangxi Province on March 21 while en route from Kunming to Guangzhou. All on board are feared dead due to the severity of the crash, and poor geophysical and weather conditions in the area are complicating the search effort. To date, no survivors have been found, nor has a clear cause of the accident been determined, although the first of two black box flight recorders has been retrieved. No foreign nationals were on board the six-year-old Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
Airline industry takes another blow . . .
China has one of the world’s best airline safety records and was the second-largest civil aviation industry by air transport scale prior to COVID-19. The industry boomed due to partial deregulation in the 2000s and is envisioned in China’s current Five-Year Plan to include 930 million trips, 9.5 million metric tons of cargo, and more than 270 domestic civil transport airports by the end of 2025. The four state-owned industry giants – China Eastern Airlines, Air China, China Southern Airlines, and Hainan Airlines – face little domestic competition. Until Monday, its industry held a world record of 137 months without a major accident due to strict safety protocols, new aircraft, and well-trained pilots. Following this week’s crash, the Civil Aviation Administration of China launched a two-week safety overhaul of the entire sector.
Repercussions felt across global aviation industry . . .
The crash sent shares of plane maker Boeing Co. and U.S.-listed Chinese airline companies lower as the market opened on March 22. Boeing’s stock price fell by more than six per cent, and China Eastern Airlines’ stock was down as much as nine per cent. China Eastern's 2019 data indicates that it owns more than 200 Boeing 737-800s, comprising about one-third of the carrier’s fleet. It is unclear whether Boeing’s 737 Max, a different model that has been grounded in China since 2019 following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, will still be able to get much-hoped-for regulatory approval. Experts from Boeing and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board may take part in an 'on the ground' investigation, pending workarounds to China’s current visa and quarantine requirements.
- South China Morning Post: Air tragedy in China after a decade of aviation safety
- The Paper: 东航坠机事故第四天，有这九个确定消息
- Wall Street Journal: China Eastern plane crash: Rescuers find engine parts, hunt for second black box