Co-pilot vaping in plane causes aircraft to plunge 20,000 feet, oxygen supply being cut off from passengers

The Boeing 737 jet was flying from Hong Kong to the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian on Tuesday when the incident occurred.


                            Co-pilot vaping in plane causes aircraft to plunge 20,000 feet, oxygen supply being cut off from passengers

An Air China co-pilot caused the aircraft he was overseeing to plunge nearly 20,000 feet midair. Reports state that he did so when he pulled the wrong switch while attempting to shut off an air recycling system because he was vaping an e-cigarette in the cockpit. 

The Boeing 737 jet was flying from Hong Kong to the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian on Tuesday when the incident occurred.



Chinese investigators reportedly said that the first officer of Air China Flight CA106 accidentally cut off the aircraft's air conditioning system, which caused insufficient oxygen levels in the cabin, according to BBC.

He reportedly did it in an attempt to stop vapor from his e-cigarette from wafting into the passenger cabin. He tried to turn off a fan to stop smoke reaching the passenger cabin without informing the captain, however, he accidentally turned off the air-conditioning unit instead.



The Civil Aviation Administration of China officials said that the low oxygen levels in the aircraft reportedly prompted an altitude warning which resulted in a nearly fatal plunge in less than nine minutes.

The passengers of the aircraft were reportedly terrified at the moment and said that although they were not hurt physically, the incident has impacted them psychologically.

One of the passengers on the flight, Hoby Sun, said: "[We] didn’t know what was going on, nor did the flight attendants, it seemed." 



"I’m not physically hurt, but the psychological impact lingers. When I close my eyes, I see the oxygen masks dangling in front of me," Hoby told CNN.

According to Chinese news outlets, the pilots of the aircraft ultimately managed to ascend back to 24,600 feet and succeeded in landing the plane. Reports state that all the 153 passengers and nine crew members were safe at the time of landing.



A senior Civil Aviation Administration official Qiao Yin said that the co-pilot, who has not been named yet, will be served with "severe punishment in accordance with laws and regulations."

The only fatal accident on record by Air China is of a 2002 incident when a Boeing 767 crashed into a hill in South Korea because of bad weather, killing 129 passengers.