Focus on security, airlines instructed
Airport security is feeling the heat of the spotlight again following the death of a boy after he fell off the wheel well of a passenger jet in Northwest China on Wednesday morning.
The accident once again reveals the serious gaps in airport security, said Zhang Guanghui, director of the Airport Department of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), the industry watchdog.
"Normally, the tragedy should not happen as the airports are obliged to be managed on a close-end basis," Zhang said yesterday.
A boy around 10 years old stowed away on a China Eastern Airlines flight and fell onto the tarmac at the Dunhuang Airport shortly after the plane took off at 7:50 am.
The boy, whose name has not been released but who has been identified as a resident of Dunhuang in Gansu Province, died at the scene. His body was sent to a local hospital.
The boy was thought to have sneaked into the landing gear compartment of the Airbus A320 by crossing the fences on Tuesday night without being noticed by security workers, said an airport official who gave only his surname, Xing.
"The investigations jointly launched by the airport and the CAAC's Northwestern Bureau are still on the way," Xing said.
Local police are trying to confirm the boy's identity, the Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.
Zhang expressed his opinion on where the blame lay.
"Some aviation companies are found to neglect security management while devoting their attention to seeking profit," he said.
According to Zhang, among China's 137 airports, some fail to meet the standard that CAAC regulates.
"Furthermore, more than 30 of the airports are used for both civil and military purposes, which increases the possible gaps because of the unclear responsibility for management," Zhang said.
One example happened in Kunming, Yunnan Province, last November, when two boys, aged 13 and 14, stowed away in the landing gear compartment of a Sichuan Airlines jet. The 13-year-old fell from the plane shortly after takeoff and died. The other boy survived the flight across Southwest China to Chongqing.
"The accident at Kunming airport was caused by the unclear responsibility in the field division and management, as the airport is used for both civil and military purposes," Zhang said.
The administration, as the industry watchdog, is urging aviation enterprises to improve their safety and security measures, he said.
(China Daily 05/27/2005 page1)