The co-pilot of a Chinese plane was “sucked halfway out” of the aircraft after a cockpit windshield blew out during a flight that took place on Monday morning.
Captain Liu Chuanjian, who was in charge of the Sichaun Airlines Airbus A319 managed to save his co-pilot and also land the plane safely in manual mode.
He told the Chengdu Economic Daily that the aircraft, which was flying from the central Chinese city of Chongqing to the Tibetan capital Lhasa, had exhibited no warning signs at all. Then, suddenly, with the plane at its cruising altitude of 32,000 ft, a deafening sound was heard in the cockpit, followed by a loss of pressure and a temperature drop.
He looked over, and the right windshield was gone.
He described the scene, saying:
“There was no warning sign. Suddenly the windshield just cracked and made a loud bang. The next thing I know my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the window. Everything in the cockpit was floating in the air. Most of the equipment malfunctioned … and I couldn’t hear the radio. The plane was shaking so hard I could not read the gauges.”
Luckily, the co-pilot was wearing a seatbelt, which prevented him being sucked into the abyss; he was pulled back in, only sustaining scratches and a sprained wrist.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China reported that none of the 119 passengers were hurt, and that, other than the co-pilot, one other cabin crew member was injured in the descent.
The windshield on the Sichaun Airlines flight came out half an hour after the plane had taken off, at 6:25am local time, with Captain Chuanjian reverting to manual controls to land the aircraft in the south-west city of Chengdu.
An unnamed passenger told the China News Service what events looked like from the cabin.
“The crew were serving us breakfast when the aircraft began to shake. We didn’t know what was going on and we panicked. Then the oxygen masks dropped … We experienced a few seconds of free fall before it stabilised again.
“I’m still nervous. I don’t dare to take an airplane anymore. But I’m also happy I had a narrow escape.”
Passengers were sent on another plane to reach their final destination of Lhasa.
You can see footage of the cabin as the incident took place in the video below.
The aircraft in question had apparently accumulated 19,912 flight hours since entering service for Sichaun Airlines in July 2011.
An investigation is underway into what caused the catastrophic windscreen failure.
The incident comes less than a month after a passenger on Southwest Airlines flight 1380 from New York to Dallas died after being sucked through a hole in the side of a Boeing 737, which had been caused by an engine exploding 31,000 feet in the air. She was held back from being completely sucked out, but sadly died as a result of her injuries later on.