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Chinese CRJs grounded

CAAC takes precautionary move after crash to carry out investigations on fleet

Bombardier said last week it had no reason to believe that the Yunnan Airlines CRJ200 that crashed shortly after take-off from Baotou in northern China suffered any technical faults. The manufacturer confirmed, however, that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) had asked Chinese operators of CRJ200s and CRJ700s to keep them grounded until precautionary inspections have been carried out by the authority.

After taking off from Baotou - 500km (300 miles) west of Beijing - bound for Shanghai at 08:20 local time on 21 November, the aircraft crashed into a small frozen lake in a park about 2km from the airport. All six crew and 47 passengers were killed, along with two people on the ground.

It took three days for the flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder to be recovered, and they have been taken to Beijing. A team of three Bombardier technicians are on site to help the CAAC with its investigation, along with a representative of Canada's Transportation Safety Board.

The aircraft that crashed (B-3072), was powered by two General Electric CF34-3B1s and was delivered to Yunnan in November 2002. CRJs with Shanghai Airlines and Shangdong Airlines were also affected by the grounding: Yunnan Airlines and Shanghai Airlines each have five CRJ200s, while Shandong Airlines has nine CRJ200s and two CRJ700s. Last week, the authority could not say how long it would be before it would be cleared to fly, but Bombardier did not expect the grounding to last for long.

The Yunnan accident is the worst to befall the CRJ since it entered service in 1992. Over 950 of the 50-seat CRJ models have been delivered worldwide and four have been written off in accidents, of which three resulted in fatalities. (This excludes a flight-test crash.)

INVESTIGATION LEITHEN FRANCIS / SINGAPORE & DAVID LEARMOUNT / LONDON

 

 

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