BEIJING/SYDNEY — Song Zhiyong, who was appointed as the party boss at China’s aviation regulator last month, has replaced Feng Zhenglin to be the administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the agency’s website said.
The CAAC has become one of the world’s most influential aviation regulators, alongside its U.S. and European counterparts, after being the first to ground Boeing’s 737 MAX in 2019 after two fatal crashes.
Song began his career as a pilot at flag carrier Air China and has held a series of meetings at CAAC in recent weeks where he stressed the need to adhere to the Communist Party’s political leadership, to ensure aviation safety and to push for reforms in the civil aviation system, according to statements on CAAC’s website.
Feng, who will reach retirement age this year, will serve a consultative role on economic affairs at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), state media said in late June.
In the second half of this year, the CAAC will accelerate efforts to streamline aircraft certification, help reform the country’s air traffic control system and push for transformation of its regulatory model, Song has said.
Industry group IATA says China’s domestic market alone accounts for 10% of global air traffic.
The country’s airline industry has recovered in recent weeks from a heavy hit after authorities locked down Shanghai in April to contain a record number of COVID cases. Fears of further outbreaks persist.
The industry was also roiled by the crash of a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 jet in March that kiled all 132 people on board.
Investigators in a probe led by CAAC are examining the actions of the crew, with no evidence found of a technical malfunction, people briefed on the matter have said. It was China’s first air crash in more than a decade. (Reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing and Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Barbara Lewis)