A plane carrying 128 people made an emergency landing in southwest China on Monday after a cockpit window broke at 32,000 feet, sucking the co-pilot partly out of the aircraft, authorities and the pilot said.
The Airbus A319 of Sichuan Airlines was bound for Lhasa in Tibet from the southwestern city of Chongqing when the drama began. The flight was diverted to Chengdu in Sichuan province.
“The windshield burst suddenly and a loud noise was heard, and when I looked to the side, I saw that the co-pilot was already halfway out of the window. Luckily his seatbelt was tied,” pilot Liu Chuanjian told the Chengdu Business Daily.
“Everything was flying about in the cockpit, a lot of equipment was working badly and the noise was so loud that you could not hear the radio anymore.”
The plane was vibrating strongly and it was impossible to read the instruments, said Liu, who was hailed as a hero on social media.
Despite these difficulties and the intense cold, the pilot managed to slow the aircraft from its original speed of about 800-900 kph and land in about 20 minutes.
It was unclear how badly the co-pilot, who suffered facial and waist injuries, had been hurt. A female flight attendant was slightly injured during the landing.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement that part of the cockpit window broke as the plane was flying over Chengdu.
The cause of the incident was under investigation, it said.
Images posted on the official People’s Daily newspaper online appear to show a cockpit window completely missing.
A video shows oxygen masks deployed, and flight attendants walking up and down the aisle to give passengers instructions on how to disembark.
It was the second emergency landing in China in less than a month.
On April 15 an Air China flight was diverted after a man briefly took hostage a crew member he was threatening with a fountain pen.