China’s J-15 carrier-based fighter aircraft lands safely after hitting birds

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A navy pilot flying China’s J-15 fighter jet successfully landed his plane after catching fire after being struck by a bird, China Central Television (CCTV) reported Wednesday.

Yuan Wei, a People’s Liberation Army navy pilot, coordinated with air traffic controllers to safely land his J-15 after its left engine caught fire, CCTV reported. The fire was sparked by a clash with a flock of birds less than a minute after the plane took off. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire.

A military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday that planes often encounter birds, but it is unusual for these encounters to cause a fire.

Three accidents involving China’s carrier-based naval aviation group have been made public since 2016.

On April 27, 2016, Zhang Chao, a pilot on a training mission on China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, died while attempting to land his J-15. On his approach, he noticed that the nose of the plane had started to rise.

Zhang attempted to force the J-15’s nose down. However, his attempt failed and he ejected from the plane, according to the flight data recorder. Zhang’s parachute failed to open before he hit the ground and he died at a hospital, the Global Times previously reported.

On April 6, Cao Xianjian survived a crash caused by a flight control system malfunction by ejecting from the plane seconds before the J-15 crashed. Cao suffered serious injuries.

China’s carrier-based naval aviation group was founded on May 10, 2013.

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