The co-pilot on a Chinese airline was “sucked halfway” from the cockpit, but survived as the flight’s captain swiftly brought the plane down.
The Sichuan Airlines flight, which departed Chongqing on Monday, had reached 32,000 feet a half an hour in when pilot Liu Chuanjian noticed a window crack and a loud noise, the Chengdu Economic Daily reported.
“The next thing I know, my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the window,” he told local Chinese media in comments cited by Reuters.
The unidentified co-pilot was wearing his seatbelt when the window cracked, and he was ripped back into the plane.
Despite the high altitude, the co-pilot only sprained his wrist and suffered a few bruises, local media reported.
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Chinese aviation authorities announced another person in the cockpit was also injured, according to Reuters.
Liu was praised in China for his quick response by calmly dropping the plane’s altitude.
“Everything in the cockpit was floating in the air,” he told Chengdu Economic Daily. “Most of the equipment malfunctioned ... and I couldn’t hear the radio. The plane was shaking so hard I could not read the gauges.”
The flight was originally bound for Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, but Liu brought the Airbus A319 down in Chengdu, a city in southwest China.
None of the 119 passengers were injured, according to reports, but plenty were rattled as the plane suddenly dropped thousands of feet as the crew served breakfast.
“We didn’t know what was going on and we panicked,” one passenger said in comments carried by Reuters. “Then the oxygen masks dropped... We experienced a few seconds of free fall before it stabilized again.”
The France-based Airbus is reportedly looking into why the window suddenly busted.
The incident echoes a Dallas-bound Southwest Airlines flight last month, in which a blown engine ripped a hole in the plane’s cabin.
Passenger Jennifer Riordan’s upper body was sucked out of the plane, before two men were able to bring her back in. She died of her injuries after the plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.