CHINA TO PUT AVIATION FUTURE IN THE HANDS OF SCIENCE

CHINA TO PUT AVIATION FUTURE IN THE HANDS OF SCIENCE

China will devote more attention to science and technology in enhancing its civil aviation sector, periodically shaken by disastrous accidents and beleaguered by shortages of skilled people.

"Scientific and technological standards have become a key factor in aviation security, service, economic efficiency and every other aspect of the industry," said Chen Guangyi, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.Shen Yuankang, Caac deputy director, said the industry will implement a new navigation system with the establishment of radar control and very high frequency coverage in eastern China and automatic monitoring in the west.

An air traffic network connecting airports in all provincial capitals and main cities, 10 aviation oil depots and several flight simulator and flight- attendant training centers will be set up, Mr. Shen said.

The agency aims to have 80 percent of domestic aircraft maintenance reach international standards by 2000. By that time, 90 percent of D-checks and engine overhauls and 60 percent of accessory maintenance of China's main fleets will be done domestically.

To reinforce management, the agency said it will establish management information systems at the regional level and within airlines, creating an initial network by the end of the decade. A national information network will be set up before 2010, speakers at the conference said.

Mr. Shen said investment in education will be enhanced to help achieve the goals.

The industry at present puts 20 million yuan ($2.4 million) into scientific and technological education annually. With the proposed addition of 2 million yuan a year, the amount will reach 30 million by 2010.

China only recently carried out its first D-check, the most demanding of the series of routine maintenance operations required of modern jets.

It was done on an Air China Boeing 747-200 by Aircraft Maintenance & Engineering Co. a partnership between state-owned Air China, the country's chief overseas carrier, and Lufthansa AG.

With 30-odd regional carriers and increasing traffic in its skies, China has begun paying more attention to safety and training. More than 600 people have died in crashes in the last three years.