Sichuan Airlines co-pilot 'sucked halfway' out of cockpit, captain says

The flight passenger had accidentally opened the emergency exit door. Getty Images

The flight passenger had accidentally opened the emergency exit door. Getty Images

This photo taken on May 14, 2018 shows employees checking a Sichuan Airlines Airbus A319 after an emergency landing, as a broken cockpit window (L) is covered, in Chengdu in China's northwestern Sichuan province.

The co-pilot was fortunately wearing a seatbelt and was pulled back in to safety, with only scratches and a sprained wrist.

It was unclear how badly the co-pilot, who suffered facial and waist injuries, had been hurt.

He says he felt the cold air and saw how the cockpit door opened.

Mr Liu had to land the Airbus A319 immediately, a task made more hard because the instruments malfunctioned and it was too loud to use the radio. On May 3, another Southwest Airlines flight was forced to conduct an emergency landing after a cabin window pane cracked in mid-flight. In Chengdu, they switched to another aircraft and continued their journey to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. The co-pilot and a flight attendant suffered injuries as the right-side windshield broke, damaging some equipment in the A319's cockpit as the jet lost cabin pressure. "The next thing I know my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the window", he said. None of the plane's 119 passengers were injured.

Liu Chuanjian, the pilot who managed to land the plane, told a local Chinese news outlet that there was no warning before the disaster.

His captain, Captain Liu Chuanjian, performed an emergency landing, making an unscheduled stop in Chengdu.

A video shows oxygen masks deployed, and flight attendants walking up and down the aisle to give passengers instructions on how to disembark.

An initial statement from Sichuan Airlines stated that the incident had been caused by a failure of the flight control unit.

Passengers report being mid breakfast when the plane suddenly went dark, oxygen masks dropped and the plane plummeted toward the mountainous area below.

A passenger described the panic in the cabin to the China News Service. People were shocked and started screaming, and some even started vomiting.

Sichuan Airlines is a regional airline based in Chengdu; it mainly operates domestic flights, but also has global routes to Canada, Japan and the Czech Republic.

Liu said that the plane was at cruising altitude about 150 km from Chengdu when the accident occurred.

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