A Sichuan Airlines plane flying from the southwest Chinese city of Chongqing to Lhasa in Tibet has been forced to make an emergency landing in Chengdu after the right-hand side of the cockpit windshield broke off mid-flight. Reports out of China suggest the co-pilot received scratches and a ‘waist sprain’ but somehow avoided a more serious injury.
A member of cabin crew was also said to have been injured although details were not immediately made available. None of the 119 passengers onboard was hurt after the aircraft suffered the rapid decompression and made its unscheduled landing in the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan province.
According to data from Flightradar24, Flight 3U8633 departed Chongqing at approximately 6.30am on Monday morning. Data from the flight tracking site shows the Airbus A319 was cruising at approximately 31,000 feet when it suddenly descended 8,000 feet in around two minutes.
Dramatic footage from inside the cabin, taken by passengers on smartphones has now been shared on China’s popular social sharing site, Weibo. Oxygen masks can be seen hanging from the ceiling as cabin crew rush to secure the plane for the emergency landing.
More photos from inside the cockpit show the right-hand windshield completely missing. There appears to be significant damage to a number of the controls in the cockpit.
According to Reuters, the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s (CAAC) Southwest Regional Administration confirmed the injuries to both the co-pilot and flight attendant. Sichuan Airlines said on its official Weibo account that there had been a “mechanical failure” without going into further detail.
Sichuan Airlines is a Chinese regional airline headquartered in Chengdu. It mainly operates domestic flights, along with some international services to countries including Japan, Canada and the Czech Republic. The airline’s major shareholder is the regional government but China Southern and China Eastern also own shares in the carrier.
The A319-100 aircraft, with registration B-6419, is less than seven years old and was made in Airbus’ Chinese factory in Tianjin. Officials from Airbus said it would “would provide all necessary support upon request by the CAAC and Sichuan Airlines.”