A co-pilot cheated death when a cockpit window broke and fell out during a flight in China.
The windshield on the right side of the Airbus A319’s cockpit cracked, shattered and fell out mid-air.
The incident occurred when the plane had just reached its cruising altitude of 32,000 feet, about 30 minutes after it had taken off.
The Sichuan Airlines co-pilot, who was wearing a seatbelt, was pulled to safety.
He suffered scratches and a sprained wrist, according to the Civil Aviation Administration, but was otherwise unharmed.
His captain, Captain Liu Chuanjian, performed an emergency landing, making an unscheduled stop in Chengdu.
In the cabin, passengers donned oxygen masks as the plane lurched to the side and meal trays fell to the floor.
Later, the captain spoke to the Chengdu Economic Daily about the ordeal. “There was no warning sign. Suddenly, the windshield just cracked and made a loud bang.
“The next thing I know, my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the window,” he revealed.
“Everything in the cockpit was floating in the air. Most of the equipment malfunctioned.
“I couldn’t hear the radio. The plane was shaking so hard I could not read the gauges,” the pilot said, adding that the cockpit’s temperature dropped to minus 40 degrees Celsius.
A passenger described the panic in the cabin to the China News Service. “The crew were serving us breakfast when the aircraft began to shake.
“We didn’t know what was going on and we panicked. Then the oxygen masks dropped. We experienced a few seconds of freefall before it stabilised again.
“I’m still nervous. I don’t dare to take an airplane anymore. But I’m also happy I had a narrow escape.”
A member of the cabin crew was injured in the descent, but no passengers were hurt.
There has been no information given as to what caused the windshield to break off. Sichuan Airlines said the flight had experienced a “mechanical failure” without providing any further details.
Cracked windscreens are fairly common, caused by birds or lightning strikes, but to have one come off completely is unusual.
In April, a female passenger in the US died when the cabin window next to her shattered.
Closer to home, British passengers feared for their lives when two planes collided at an airport in Turkey.
Passengers on a Turkish Airlines jet panicked when it was clipped by a larger airbus, slicing off its tail.