China pilot jailed over crash that killed 44: report

China pilot jailed over crash that killed 44: report
The wreckage of a crashed passenger plane is seen in Yichun, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province August 25, 2010.

BEIJING - A Chinese court on Friday jailed a pilot for three years for causing one of the worst plane crashes in Chinese history which killed 44 people in 2010, state-media reported.

Qi Quanjun, the main pilot aboard the Henan Airlines flight which crashed in heavy fog in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, was sentenced by a local court, the Legal Daily newspaper reported.

The crash at Yichun airport was the worst in the country since 2004, highlighting safety concerns amid a rapid expansion in China's domestic airline market.

Qi was found guilty of "causing a major airline accident", on the grounds that he had decided to land without being able to properly see the runway, the report said.

Reports at the time said that nearly half of the 91 passengers on board were government officials, and several perished in the fiery crash.

Qi survived but was unable to speak due to severe facial injuries, the China Daily reported at the time.

The crash was China's first major air disaster since a China Eastern Airlines jet crashed in Inner Mongolia in November 2004, killing 53 people on board and two on the ground.

Decades of economic growth have led to a rapid expansion of air travel in China.

Chinese airlines carried 350 million passengers last year, up nearly 11 per cent from 2012, official figures show.

Beijing officials said the country will have more than 230 airports by 2015, up from 193 last year.

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