Fighter jet crashes during air show

Updated: 2011-10-15 07:24

By Ma Lie and Cui Jia (China Daily)

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 Fighter jet crashes during air show
Plumes of smoke are visible after a fighter plane crashes during an air show in Shaanxi province. One of the pilots is ejected with a parachute (in circle). Zhang Yuan / China News Service

PUCHENG, Shaanxi province - A fighter jet crashed during an air show in Shaanxi province on Friday morning as spectators looked on.

One pilot was missing while the other survived, authorities confirmed on Friday.

Eyewitnesses said the plane was about 500 meters in the air before it crashed. Only one of the pilots ejected but the parachute did not completely open.

"The plane crashed about a kilometer and a half from the audience and exploded in flames," an eyewitness surnamed Zou told China Daily.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

"One pilot survived by parachuting and the other is still missing," said He Liang, a member of the executive committee of China International General Aviation Convention, at a quick news conference held on Friday afternoon.

"Authorities are making their best effort to locate the missing pilot. No one on the ground was killed or injured," He said.

There was no word on the condition of the surviving pilot.

The accident happened at 10:47 am when the plane and its two pilots returned after a performance and crashed into the salt marshes near Donglou village in Pucheng county.

Xinhua News Agency reported that the crashed jet was a two-seat, fighter-bomber Flying Leopard, or JH-7, which made its first public appearance in 1998 and was assembled in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

The convention organizer refused to confirm the model of the crashed jet.

The aircraft features a number of new technologies, which were first seen on Chinese-developed combat aircraft, including a turbofan jet engine and sophisticated self-defense electronic countermeasures suite.

The air show, taking place about 120 km northeast of Xi'an, includes aerobatic teams from Hungary, Sweden and the United States, who were expected to perform with Chinese teams from Oct 14 to 16.

The organizer did not say if the air show schedule would be disrupted by the accident.

In 2009, a Flying Leopard jet crashed when participating in the "Peace Mission 2009" joint military exercise between China and Russia, killing both pilots.

China Daily

(China Daily 10/15/2011 page1)