Chinese pilot almost sucked out of cockpit after windshield shatters at 32,000 ft
A Chinese pilot is recovering in hospital after he almost got sucked out of the cockpit when the windshield shattered when the plane was at an altitude of 32,000 ft.
Xu Ruchien, 27, was saved from being ejected out of the plane completely by his seat-belt when the windshield in front of him shattered and fell off the Sichuan Airline plane carrying 119 passengers, according to the flight's captain's statement to the Chinese media.
According to Daily Mail, after the terrifying incident over South Western China on Monday, the temperature in the cockpit dropped to 40 degrees Celsius below zero. Fortunately, the co-pilot, captain Liu Chuanjian, landed the Airbus A319 safely.
Co-pilot Xu suffered severe scratches on his face and chest and is currently hospitalized in Chengdu, according to the state broadcaster, Central China Television Station.
During the press conference, the captain was grateful for the support from his crew during the emergency which enabled him to remain calm in his successful attempt in keeping all the passengers safe and landing the plane.
The Sichuan Airlines plane, 3U8633, was scheduled to fly from Chongqing to Lhasa. It departed Chongqing at 6:27 am and was due to arrive in Lhasa at 9:27 am.
One of the windshields of the plane shattered about one hour into the flight when the plane was flying over the city of Chengdu, one of the most populous cities in Western China.
The captain expressed that he had 25 years of experience and had flown over the route more than 100 times. He told Chengdu Business Daily that it was a quick moment when one of the windshields on the right-hand side of the cockpit shattered.
"The exploded window caused the cockpit to decompress immediately, everything in the cockpit was floating in the air. I couldn't hear the radio and the cockpit's temperature dropped to minus 40 degree Celsius," he said.
The co-pilot had his upper body "sucked out" of the broken windshield despite having a safety belt strapped on, stated the captain.
"There were people screaming, bags dropping from the overhead cabin and lunch boxes scattering along the corridor."
A recent airplane maintenance report released by Xinhua News Agency showed there were no signs of damage on the windshields. The airline confirmed that the company had not changed the windshields any time soon.
According to an earlier report by Xinhua, the captain issued an 'Squawk 7700' emergency code after the window shattered, alerting the air traffic control facilities of the dangerous situation.
The plane was diverted to nearby Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu. Within 20 minutes at around 7:46 am, the captain safely landed the plane at the airport.
Mobile phone footage emerged online showing flight attendants asking passengers to wear oxygen masks and put on safety belts.
Zeng Jun, one of the passengers, told Chengdu Business Daily: "The plane suddenly descended after flying about an hour in the air. It lasted for about five, six seconds."
Reports also said 27 flight passengers claimed to be unwell after the incident and had to be hospitalized, however, the passengers were discharged immediately.
A total of 59 passengers were told to take another flight at 11:50 am to fly to Lhasa Gonggar Airport while the remaining travelers sought high-speed train. In a statement issued on its social media account, Sichuan Airlines apologized to the passengers on board for the inconvenience caused due to the incident.
The statement also added all flight crew members were in stable condition.