A plane was forced to make an emergency landing after the cockpit windscreen was ripped out in mid-air leaving the co-pilot “sucked halfway out of the window”.
Terrifying video, filmed onboard Sichuan Airlines flight 3U8633 from Chinese city Chongqing to Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, on Monday, shows passengers using oxygen masks and a flight attendant saying: “Those exits cannot be opened” and “Be safe”.
Captain Liu Chuanjian, hailed as a hero on social media after having to land the Airbus A319 manually, told the Chengdu Economic Daily his aircraft had just reached a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet (9750 metres) when a deafening sound tore through the cockpit.
The cockpit experienced a sudden loss of pressure and drop in temperature and when he looked over, the cockpit’s right windshield was 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 was quoted as saying.
“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,” he said.
The co-pilot, who was wearing a seatbelt, was pulled back in. He suffered scratches and a sprained wrist, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said, adding that one other cabin crew member was also injured in the descent. None of the plane’s 119 passengers were injured.
The plane landed safely at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.
According to Sichuan Airlines, the reason was due to a “mechanical failure” but no further details were available.
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Horrified passengers revealed their fears as the windscreen was ripped out.
“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,’ one passenger told the government-run China News Service.
“We experienced a few seconds of free fall before it stabilized again.
“I’m still nervous. I don’t dare to take an airplane anymore. But I’m also happy I had a narrow escape.”