The cockpit was in chaos.
About an hour into a Sichuan Airlines flight headed from southwestern China to Tibet on Monday morning, the pilot heard a piercing sound, and then the windshield inexplicably shattered. Captain Liu Chuanjian found himself in a turbulent struggle to maintain control of a plane full of 119 passengers.
He turned to his co-pilot only to see “half his body suspended out of the window,” he said. “Fortunately, he was wearing a seat belt.”
Liu described the terror at 30,000 feet during a taped interview with the Chengdu Business News, while Sichuan Airlines thanked him and the crew in a statement for their lifesaving actions. No one was killed.
The harrowing incident comes nearly a month after a woman on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York died after shrapnel from a blown engine smashed the window, forcing out part of her body as other passengers pulled her back in.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said the Sichuan Airlines co-pilot was treated for scratches and a sprained wrist. A second crew member also suffered injuries to their waist, officials said.
“The crew members are in good condition and after full rest, they will continue to perform the sacred duty of safe flight,” the airline said.
Another 27 passengers sought assistance after the plane made an emergency landing in the Chinese city of Chengdu. None of them appeared seriously hurt, the airline said, adding that it had arranged for special personnel to accompany the travelers.
The airline did not immediately comment Tuesday about what led to the shattered windshield, but apologized and referred to the incident as “mechanical failures.”
France’s BEA accident investigation agency and cwere sending staff to China to investigate, Chinese aviation officials said.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Mac William Bishop, Dawn Liu and Erik Ortiz