Vaping Air China co-pilot causes plane to plunge 25,000 feet

14 July, 2018, 09:44 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Passengers were forced to use air masks

According to a preliminary investigation by China's aviation authority, a co-pilot on the flight caused it by trying to cover up the fact that he was smoking an electronic cigarette.

Smoking is not allowed aboard Chinese commercial passenger flights.

The Boeing 737 aircraft, which had departed Hong Kong 30 minutes previously, was carrying 153 passengers and nine crew members at the time.

As reported in the Chinese business outlet Caixin, the Civil Aviation Administration said the co-pilot had tried to turn off a circulation fan so that the fumes from his vaping would not go into the cabin. Pictures and videos posted on social media showed the masks hanging from the ceiling, but no noticeable panic among the passengers. The shutdown caused oxygen levels to drop, prompting the plane's emergency systems to instruct the pilots to start descending immediatelly.

Oxygen masks were deployed during the descent on the flight from Hong Kong to the port city of Dalian in northwest China.

'Smoke diffused into the passenger cabin and relevant air conditioning components were wrongly shut off, without notifying the captain, which resulted in insufficient oxygen, ' it added.


Once they saw that the air conditioning had been turned off, they reactivated it and brought the flight back to its normal altitude.

Qiao Yibin, the CAAC official, promised to hand down "severe punishment in accordance with laws and regulations", if the regulator's final conclusion on the incident matches its initial finding.

The CAAC said it had requested the aircraft's flight data and cockpit voice recorder as part of its probe.

"[We] didn't know what was going on, nor did the flight attendants, it seemed", said Hoby Sun, a passenger on flight CA106.

Air China fired the entire flight deck crew and suggested CAAC revoke their pilot's licenses upon completing its investigation, the country's flag carrier said Friday night in a statement.

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