BEIJING (AP) — A pilot and two students were killed Monday when their trainer aircraft crashed in the central Chinese province of Hubei, state media reported.

The brief report did not give the type of aircraft but said the apparent accident occurred shortly after noon outside the Hubei city of Yichang, about 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) southwest of Beijing.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

Yichang lies on the edge of the North China Plain and generally enjoys moderate winter temperatures.

The aviation school, Yichang Aviation Academy, is a subsidiary of the vast HNA group, which has lately expanded from running Hainan Airlines into managing hotels and a range of other leisure outlets both within and without China.

China’s rapidly expanding aviation sector has created an enormous demand for new pilots, most of whom are recruited from the private sector. Overall, Chinese civil aviation has an excellent safety record resting on solid training and strict maintenance of aircraft, mostly from Boeing and Airbus. China has also been emerging as manufacturer in the civil aviation sector, first with turboprops but more recently with jet aircraft it hopes to sell to domestic carriers and discount airlines in the region.