Liaoning aircraft carrier

Father of fighter programme Luo Yang dies after carrier landing triumph

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2012, 3:47am

China is mourning the death of its J-15 jet-fighter programme chief, who collapsed shortly after the nation's first aircraft carrier returned from successful landing tests involving the jet.

Luo Yang, 51, chairman and president of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, had a heart attack and died on the way to hospital on Sunday, CCTV reported yesterday - just after Beijing declared the tests a success.

Luo was the key architect of the jet-fighter programme and spent three decades helping to develop the aviation industry.

The J-15 is China's first indigenous jet able to operate from an aircraft carrier, making it a crucial piece of the country's efforts to build a carrier fleet.

State media gave Luo's death high-profile coverage, praising him as a hero. His obituary was given the all-important lead spot on CCTV's 7pm newscast.

CCTV footage showed a fit-looking Luo shaking hands with other workers after leaving the aircraft carrier. The report said he collapsed soon afterwards and rescue workers spent three hours trying to resuscitate him.

China National Radio reported that Luo had felt sick after boarding the carrier on November 18, but he refused to leave the vessel.

A memorial service will be held by Shenyang Aircraft on Thursday. His body was delivered to the company at midnight yesterday and workers lined up outside the company headquarters, holding banners paying tribute to the engineer.

CCTV reported that Luo had been given "very hard missions and had not gone through medical checks this year" and said that he might have had "hidden health problems".

In an earlier interview with the broadcaster, Luo had said his job was demanding and he was under enormous stress. "Whenever there is a problem emerging, our leaders want us to fix it within a short period of time, and we all feel the pressure," he said.

A staff member at Shenyang said Luo seemed healthy at meetings but that it was common for managers to skip medical checks because of hectic schedules.

"I am shocked," he said. "But Luo was busy and was always on a trip. He could stay at headquarters for no more than five days a month."

CCTV reported that Luo made a phone call to his wife a day before his death, saying he was excited that his mission was accomplished.

Luo's death came as Beijing hailed the successful tests, with Xinhua saying more than 100 tests and training exercises had been completed since the aircraft carrier was formally commissioned by the navy in September.