A pilot was “sucked out” of a plane after the cockpit windshield blew out in mid-air.
The co-pilot of the Sichuan Airlines flight 3U8633 managed to make an emergency landing and the passengers and crew suffered only minor injuries, according to the aircraft’s captain.
Miraculously the pilot, who was wearing a seatbelt, suffered only scratches and a sprained wrist, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.
Liu Chuanjian has since been hailed a hero on social media after he was able to land the Airbus A319 manually.
He told the Chengdu Economic Daily his aircraft had just reached a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet when a deafening sound tore through the cockpit.
The cockpit experienced a sudden loss of pressure and drop in temperature just half an hour after the plane took off and when he looked over, the right windshield was completely gone.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
A passenger told the government-run China News Service: “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.”
One member of the plane’s cabin crew was injured, although none of the plane’s 119 passengers was injured.
The incident is being investigated, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), who said France’s BEA accident investigation agency and Airbus would send staff to China, according to CAAC News which is affiliated to the aviation regulator.
Sichuan Airlines Flight 3U8633 left the central Chinese municipality of Chongqing on Monday bound for the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and made its emergency landing in the southwest city of Chengdu.
Reports suggest that the windshield was part of the original aircraft and had no previously recorded faults.