The pilot of a Chinese plane that crashed and killed 44 travellers in 2010, was sentenced to three years in jail, reports said Friday. Qi Quanjun, the pilot of the Henan Airlines flight, was found guilty of negligence for not following safety rules while landing and escaping the aircraft after the crash, leaving the passengers trapped inside the burning plane.
The ERJ-900, built by Brazil’s Embraer, had burst into flames after it overshot the runway while landing at Yichun in China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang. The plane had 91 passengers and five crew members on board, Reuters reported, and had missed the runway while landing. It was one of the worst air disasters since 2004 for the country, which had implemented stricter safety rules and improved its training since then. In 2004, a China Eastern plane had plunged into a lake in northern China, killing all 53 on board and two people on ground, according to The Associated Press.
The court had said that Qi broke rules by trying to land “when visibility at the airport was below safety standards," state media reported, according to BBC.
After the crash, Henan Airlines, which was earlier known as Kunpeng Airlines, was ordered to change its name back to Kunpeng Airlines, media reports said.
Kunpeng Airlines, however, does not exist anymore. It was controlled by Shenzhen Airlines, which is partly owned by Air China, Reuters reported, adding that the company did not comment on the court ruling.