The damaged cockpit. /Photo via @Hangkongwuyu
Sichuan Airlines' captain of flight 3U8633 Liu Chuanjian briefed media about the emergency landing on Monday after he, together with all the cabin crew and passengers, experienced a flight journey similar to the one on British Airways 5390 in 1990.
An improperly installed windshield was suddenly separated from its frame after the flight 5390 took off. The incident caused a flight captain to be blown partially out of the aircraft and kept pressed against the frame for some 20 minutes until it was landed at Southampton Airport with no loss of life.
Sichuan Airlines' incident on Monday was nearly a real rerun of some scenes which might have been seen in air crash series Mayday. Liu defined the emergency landing as a very difficult task when he was recollecting the whole process in an interview with Red Star News, a Sichuan-based news outlet later on Monday.
“The loss of the windshield can easily injure the pilots. Pilots are firstly threatened by decompression after the windshield is accidentally lost, which would do damage to eardrums. The decreasing temperature would frostbite pilots mid-air,” Liu said and explained that the damage to the dashboard broke the radio and caused noise, which forced them to make an emergency landing that depended on self judging and visual instruments.
Flight 3U8633 left Chongqing earlier Monday morning for Lhasa. Its scheduled arrival time was 9:05 a.m., but it was landed safely at the alternative airport of Chengdu Shuangliu Airport due to the windshield loss incident.
According to Sichuan Airlines, the co-pilot suffered bruises while a flight attendant had her waist injured. A total of 27 passengers received checkups and now in good condition.
Liu recalled the details about the thrilling 20 minutes leading up to the safe landing, saying, “The incident happened at 7 o’clock. There was no sign before the windshield burst. Just a huge noise. When I looked at the other side, the co-pilot was partially blown out of the aircraft. Luckily, he had the belt buckled up. Many devices were malfunctioned and the plane was jolting strongly. It was very difficult to control.”
Zhou Yanwen, the injured flight attendant, told the situation in the cabin at the Chengdu Business when they heard a loud noise.
“All people were shouting onboard. We just tried our best to reassure the passengers and make everyone believe us that we could touch down safely,” said Zhou.
As the monitoring shows, the flight altitude was about 32,000 feet when the incident occurred and the temperature outside was 40 degrees below zero.
Ma Xiaorong, a 53-year-old passenger, told CGTN that most of the passengers were eating when they heard a bang.
“Then the plane began to descend and I was greatly scared,” said Ma, adding that it was the first time that he took a plane. He was going to Tibet to work, but now he has decided to go back home.
Zhou Jianqiang from Chongqing told CGTN that some stewardesses were thrown into air before falling down to the ground. The food was also scattered everywhere.
“In fact, I was not frightened. What I thought was that it might hurt if the plane crashed,” said the 23-year-old, who was traveling to Lhasa with his girlfriend.
The Sichuan Airlines made a deep apology to its passengers in the latest statement which was published earlier Tuesday and also extended its gratitude to passengers and related departments for understanding and offering help.
Meanwhile, the airlines stated that the injured co-pilot and flight attendant are still hospitalized but in good condition, and promised that the cabin crew and pilots will resume flying after recovery.