A co-pilot of Sichuan Airlines was sucked halfway out of an aircraft’s cockpit after its right windshield was blown off at an altitude of 30,000 feet in the middle of a flight.
The incident, which occurred in the morning of May 14, forced flight 3U8633, bound to Lhasa from Chongqing, to make an emergency landing at Chengdu Shuangliu Airport.
The windshield blew out without prior signs, resulting in a change in cabin pressure that sucked half of the co-pilot’s body out of the cockpit, China News Service reported.
It all happened at temperatures between minus 30 and minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 22 and minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit).
“It happened as the flight attendants were serving our meals. People were shocked,” one passenger said, describing a feeling of weightlessness.
The co-pilot, who has not been identified, stayed calm throughout the ordeal that apparently lasted for 20 minutes.
“There was no sign before the windshield burst. Just a huge noise,” CNN quoted Capt. Liu Chuanjian as saying.
He added, “When I looked at the other side, the co-pilot was partially blown out of the aircraft. Luckily, he had the belt buckled up. Many devices were malfunctioned and the plane was jolting strongly. It was very difficult to control.”
The co-pilot sustained scratches and a sprained wrist, while another crew member was slightly hurt, according to Xinhua.
Fortunately, all 119 passengers landed without injuries.
Capt. Liu and the crew were praised for their handling of the incident. Liu, in particular, is being hailed as a hero.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a statement:
“The crew were level-headed and dealt with the crisis decisively and properly, avoiding a major disaster, which shows the superb technical skills and professionalism.”
An investigation into the cause of the incident is now underway.