A co-pilot was “sucked halfway” out of a shattered cockpit window as the plane’s captain steered the aircraft to safety.
Liu Chuanjian is being hailed a hero on Chinese social media after landing the Sichuan Airlines flight manually after his colleague was pulled back into the cabin.
He told the Chengdu Economic Daily that the Airbus A319 had just reached a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet when a deafening sound tore through the cabin.
The cockpit experienced a sudden loss of pressure and drop in temperature and when he looked over, the right windshield was gone.
Liu spoke of the terrifying moment he realised his colleague had been sucked out of the window.
“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.”
The co-pilot, who was wearing a seatbelt, was pulled back in and miraculously only suffered scratches and a sprained wrist, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.
Officials confirmed that none of the plane’s 119 passengers or any of the other cabin crew were injured in the nightmarish descent .
Authorities said France’s BEA accident investigation agency and Airbus would send staff to China to investigate.
Sichuan Airlines Flight 3U8633 left the central Chinese municipality of Chongqing on Monday bound for the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.
It made its emergency landing in the south west city of Chengdu.
An unnamed passenger told Chinese media:
“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.”
The windshield shattered about half an hour after the plane had taken off, the Chengdu Economic Daily said.
A separate report said the aircraft had accumulated 19,912 flight hours since entering service at Sichuan Airlines in July 2011.
CAAC also said that the windshield was part of the original aircraft and had no previously recorded faults.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
May 16th, 2018