Chinese Airplane Makes Emergency Landing After Cockpit Window Breaks Off at 32,000 Feet

A Chinese airplane was forced to make an emergency landing in the city of Chengdu Monday after a windscreen in its cockpit was ripped out at 32,000ft.

None of the 119 passengers on board were hurt in the incident. However, a co-pilot and crew member suffered minor injuries, the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s (CAAC) Southwest Regional Administration confirmed via its website.

Sichuan Airlines 3U8633 flight left Chongqing on Monday, heading for the Tibetan administrative capital of Lhasa. According to the airline’s Weibo account, Sichuan Airlines claimed the incident was the result of a “mechanical failure,” but no details have been given as to what caused the windshield to break off.

RTR3ILYJ A policeman stands guard in front of a China Southern Airlines plane as the plane of U.S. first lady Michelle Obama departs from Chengdu airport, Sichuan province, March 26, 2014. On Monday, a Sichuan Airlines flight made an emergency landing after a windscreen in its cockpit was ripped out mid-flight. Reuters

The airline added that it has switched the flight’s passengers to another aircraft to carry on their journey to Lhasa.

According to Shine.cn, a video of the incident showed oxygen masks dropping in the cabin, while a flight attendant can be heard telling passengers to “trust [we can] properly handle the incident.”

Pictures published by government-run Chengdu Economic Daily showed the plane missing one of its cockpit windows as well as damage to the cockpit controls. Chinese social media users praised the pilots for landing the flight safely without incurring any passenger injuries.

According to FlightRadar24, the world’s most popular flight tracker, the plane was an Airbus A319.

Sichuan Airlines, a regional airline headquartered in Chengdu, operates mostly domestic flights but also flies internationally to countries such as Japan, Canada and the Czech Republic.

Incidents involving cracked windshields happen on a regular basis due to occurrences such as bird or lightning strikes but ones involving entire windshields coming off are rare.

In 1990, one of the pilots on British Airways Flight 5390 was blown partially out of the cabin window after its windshield blew out at 23,000 feet. He survived the incident, which occurred on a BAC-111 jet.

An engine on a Southwest 737 in April ripped apart during flight and shattered a cabin window, killing a female passenger in the first U.S. airline passenger fatality since 2009. On May 3, another Southwest Airlines flight made an emergency landing after a cabin window pane cracked in flight.

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