Global News

'Vaping' pilot caused Air China plane to plunge 6,500m

'Vaping' pilot caused Air China plane to plunge 6,500m

An investigation into the incident by the Civil Aviation Administration of China discovered that the first officer was trying to hide the fact that he had been smoking an e-cigarette in the cockpit from the flight's captain, the BBC reported.

Instead, the wingman accidentally triggered a drop in oxygen levels, prompting an altitude warning that caused the almost fatal plunge - from 32,800 to 13,100 feet in less than nine minutes, Civil Aviation Administration of China officials told the station.

Smoking is not allowed aboard Chinese commercial passenger flights.

However, the co-pilot accidentally turned off the air-conditioning unit instead, causing oxygen levels in the cabin to fall and triggering the release of oxygen masks from the cabin ceiling.

In reaction to an alarm triggered by the air conditioning shut off, the flight crew dropped the plane's emergency oxygen masks and initiated a descent to a lower altitude with breathable air.

The flight then levelled off before climbing again to continue on to Dalian.

Representatives for Air China did not immediately return Fox News' request for additional comment.




The flight went on to land in Dalian without incident, but officials are reportedly investigating the incident "in greater detail", reviewing the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder for more information.

Air China said it would terminate the contracts of the employees involved in the emergency descent incident, and suggested the CAAC cancel their licences, it said on its official account on China's Twitter-like Weibo on Friday.

The incident featured heavily on Chinese social media on Friday (local time), with some commentators demanding harsh punishment and revocation of the pilot's flight licence.

A state-owned Chinese airline, Air China, flight had to descend on Tuesday after a co-pilot smoked an electronic cigarette mid-air.

It is clearly stated that e-cigarettes are also banned.

Air China also said in a previous Weibo post it had a "zero tolerance" approach towards wrongdoing by any crew.


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