A Chinese passenger jet was forced into an emergency landing after its windscreen blew out at 32,000ft (9,753m), sucking the co-pilot halfway out of the plane.
Captain Liu Chuanjian said the Airbus A319 had been cruising mid-air when a deafening sound flooded the cockpit.
“There was no warning,” he told the Chengdu Economic Daily.
“The windshield just cracked and made a loud bang. The next thing I knew, my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out.”
Luckily, the co-pilot was wearing a seatbelt. He was dragged back into the chaos of the cockpit, where pressure and temperature had dropped and the equipment was failing.
“Everything in the cockpit was floating in the air,” the captain said. “I couldn’t hear the radio. The plane was shaking so hard I could not read the gauges.”
How did it happen?
Sichuan Airlines 3U8633 was en route from Chongqing in south-west China to Lhasa in Tibet when the mishap struck.
Passengers were being served their breakfast when the plane plunged suddenly to 24,000ft.
“We didn’t know what was going on and we panicked,” one told the state-run China News Service. “The oxygen masks dropped… We experienced a few seconds of free-fall before it stabilised again.”
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said the co-pilot had a sprained wrist and facial cuts after his ordeal. Another cabin crew member suffered a slight injury to the waist as the plane dropped.
The plane landed with all 119 passengers unharmed. 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. More than 50 took a later flight, arriving in Lhasa by the afternoon.