The celebration of China's first successful flight landing on Liaoning, the nation's first aircraft carrier, were marred when Luo Yang, 51, the head of production of Chinese fighter jets, died of a heart attack on Sunday.
State-run news agency Xinhua reported that Luo suffered cardiac arrest during the landing exercises of the new J-15 fighter jet, which he developed, while on board an aircraft carrier.
The Shenyang Aircraft Corp. (SAC) confirmed his death on Monday and said Luo later died in the hospital.
Luo was the chairman and general manager of SAC, which is specically responsible for manufacturing the J-15 jets. SAC is a a subsidiary of China's state-owned aircraft manufacturer, the Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC).
Luo's colleagues told Xinhua that he was in good physical health and an active man since his youth. However, some reported that his stressful work environment may have contributed to his untimely death.
Meng Jun, chairman of AVIC Shenyang Liming Aepo-Engine (Group) Corp. Ltd., spent eight days aboard the carrier with Luo -- he said Luo worked all day and night and endured enormous stress and pressure.
Another official and colleague of Luo reported that there was one instance where Luo experienced some discomfort, but was not checked by a doctor.
The J-15 was first delivered to the China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in September.
The successful landing over the weekend marked a historic moment in China's military. The J-15 aircraft is also the nation's first multi-purpose carrier-borne fighter jet.
Bloomberg reported that Luo spent than three decades to developing Chinese aviation and held a master’s degree in aircraft design from Beihang University, formerly known as Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Luo's legacy as a pioneer in the development of China's flight-technology and military was recognized by colleagues, family and netizens.
Prominent Chinese commentator Yang Yu took to Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, to pay tribute to Luo.
"The Liaoning carrier will be just a starting point in the history of development of China's aircraft carriers," Yang said.
"That is so unfortunate. I felt deeply sorry to hear the sad news of Luo's death," said Wu Guanghui, chief designer of the C919, China's first domestically-produced large passenger aircraft, according to Xinhua.
"We had been familiar with each other since he worked at an aviation institute in Shenyang. The tall man was gentle and always energetic.”
SAC gave its own tribute to Luo -- on Monday, flags were at half-mast outside the gates of the company's compound.
The company's electronic screen which typically has the company slogan, "Cradle of China's Fighter Jets", instead read, "Mourn General Manager Luo Yang. Luo will be immortal".