BEIJING, June 17 (Reuters) - China on Friday named Song
Zhiyong, currently the chairman at Air China, as the
new Communist Party chief for the country's civil aviation
regulator, replacing Feng Zhenglin, who is nearing retirement
Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) made the
announcement on its website, citing a decision from Central
Organisation Department, the party's human resource department.
Song, who is 57 years old, started out his career as a pilot
at Air China. With his appointment as the party chief, he is
likely on track to lead CAAC as its administrator, going by past
examples, although that decision needs to come from the State
Council, the country's cabinet.
Feng, who turns 65 in September - the retirement age for
officials above the full ministerial level in China - first
assumed the role of party boss in December 2015 before being
named as the chief at CAAC in January the following year.
He remains as the administrator of CAAC for now.
Feng oversaw China's decision to be the first regulator in
the world to ground the Boeing 737 MAX plane in March
2019 following two fatal crashes.
The grounding, soon followed by other countries, elevated
CAAC's global prominence at a time when China aims to develop an
advanced aviation industry on par with the United States and
During Feng's tenure, CAAC has also been overseeing
certification of the COMAC C919 narrowbody, designed to compete
against the 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo families, though
it has faced several delays.
More recently, CAAC has been leading the investigation into
the country's deadliest aviation accident in 28 years, the crash
of a China Eastern Airlines 737-800 jet that killed
132 people in March.
(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Toby