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Air crash raises safety concerns
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-24 21:48

The crash of an airliner on Sunday in North China has underlined concerns over the safety of regional planes.

Some passengers have started paying additional attention to the type of aircraft they are likely to fly in when purchasing tickets, according to a Beijing-based travel agent.

In Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, ticket sellers say passengers preferred to fly in the Boeing 737, 747 or A 330 and 340 rather than smaller aircraft.

Regional planes, which usually have less than 100 seats, are not safer than big ones since they are more affected by turbulence, some believe. But aviation experts assure regional planes have the same safety standards as the larger planes.

People's safety concerns grew after a 50-seater CRJ-200 supplied by Canada-based Bombardier Aerospace crashed in Baotou, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The small aircraft, carrying 47 passengers and six crew members aboard, fell shortly after it took off from Baotou.

The death toll has risen to 55, one more than was originally announced since a new victim was discovered Wednesday in addition to 53 people on board the plane and an old man who was killed on the ground by fragments from the wreck, investigators said Wednesday.

The newly identified victim was a woman, Gong Xilian, who was doing morning exercises when the plane crashed in the city's Nanhai Park.

The two black boxes from the crashed plane were also found Wednesday. But the cabin voice recorder (CVR) was found damaged and needs to be taken to Beijing for further study, said experts at the site of the air crash.

Following the accident, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China urged its aviation sectors to intensify safety checks and ensure safer flights.

The administration dispatched investigation groups across the country to check all the CRJ-200 commuter planes in service.

All CRJ-200 planes have been grounded while they are checked.

Flight market

Experts say the crash will not slow the growth of the nation's regional flight market.

Whether an airline uses regional planes is a decision based on a judgment and market needs, said Geng Shuxiang with the civil aviation cadre's college in Beijing.

"Considering the nation's vast aviation market, we can say there is a large demand for regional flights," she said.

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