A policeman stands guard in front of a China Southern Airlines plane as the plane of US first lady Michelle Obama departs from Chengdu airport, Sichuan province, March 26, 2014.
French Airbus representatives later said they would send teams to China to investigate what triggered the 7-year-old plane's malfunctioning. Reuters quotes Liu Chuanjian as explaining that a booming sound was heard and the right cockpit windshield was suddenly gone-along with, nearly, the co-pilot.
An anonymous passenger on the flight told China News Service that the experience has made him afraid of ever taking another plane again.
But "everything in the cockpit was floating in the air. The plane was shaking so hard I could not read the gauges", Liu said.
The co-pilot suffered scratches and a sprained wrist, the CAA said, adding that a flight attendant was also injured. Some 27 received medical check-ups at a hospital in Chengdu, where the plane made its emergency landing, according to the South China Morning Post. "Other attendants in safe positions repeatedly reminded the passengers to put on oxygen masks", Wang told a reporter about the chaotic moment.
As -40 C winds blew through the cockpit, Liu was able to grab his co-pilot, whose body was halfway outside the plane.
Incidents involving cracked windshields do happen on a regular basis due to occurrences such as bird or lightning strikes but ones involving entire windshields coming off are rare.
"I suddenly heard a bang from the top of the plane, very loud".
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Speaking on the incident, the Sichuan Airlines issued a statement on its official Weibo account and claimed that the issue was a "mechanical failure" and that the passengers were soon taken to their destination in a different flight, the news agency reported.
"The broken window in the cabin causes a loss of pressure".
Sichuan 3U8633 from Chongqing to Lhasa diverted to Chengdu. As the windshield broke the aircraft's altitude dropped down to 24,000 feet.
"The oxygen masks on the plane all dropped out".
Liu said he has flown the route 100 times, and is familiar with many different flight situations.
An investigation into the incident is now underway.
There were 119 passengers on board, none of whom were injured by the incident.
CAAC of Southwest Regional Administration and Sichuan Airlines will carry out further investigations.