China: Around The Nation

Mechanical failure ‘did not cause Shanghai seaplane crash that left five dead’

Investigators will now examine crew members’ qualifications and captain’s medical history to find out what led to the fatal accident

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 1:05pm

Investigators have ruled out mechanical failure as the cause of a fatal seaplane crash in Shanghai, the local government said on Tuesday.

The July 20 accident in which a nine-seater Cessna 208B aircraft crashed into a road bridge along the Shanghai-Hangzhou Expressway some 10 minutes after taking off from a nearby beach, killed five people.

The plane was carrying eight passengers and two crew members, Shanghai-based news outlet ThePaper reported. The captain survived.

The aircraft was owned by Zhejiang-based Joy General Aviation, one of China’s biggest seaplane operators.

Five killed in seaplane crash in Shanghai

A Shanghai government spokesman, Xu Wei, told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that a preliminary investigation into the accident had been completed.

The investigation team found nothing abnormal after examining the plane’s fuel tank and the water area in the Jinshan district where the plane crashed, Xu said, adding that the wreckage had been transferred to a temporary storage location.

The team had since ruled out the possibility of the plane having encountered mechanical failure and was now looking into the qualifications and training of the crew members as well as the carrier’s operation procedures, the spokesman said.

The plane captain’s medical history and any medication he might have been taking would also be examined.

The captain, Zhang Fuquan, would come under investigation when he recovers from the severe injuries he sustained in the crash, Xu said.

The accident has stirred heated public debate about the safety of seaplanes.

Li Jian, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration, said seaplanes were safe as long as they were operated in accordance with aviation rules and regulations.

“The development of seaplane navigation is very promising and will contribute to the nation’s economic development,” Li told reporters earlier this month before he boarded another Cessna 208B aircraft to Sanya in Hainan province.