(CBS) – A pilot made an emergency landing in southwest China after a broken cockpit window sucked his co-pilot halfway out of the aircraft. The pilot was hailed as a hero on Tuesday by astonished citizens.
Liu Chuanjian braved the intense cold and blasting wind to slow the flight, Sichuan Airlines 3U8633, from its original speed of about 500-560 mph to land in about 20 minutes.
All 128 people aboard the Airbus A319 survived the ordeal.
The plane was bound for Lhasa in Tibet from the southwestern city of Chongqing when the cockpit window shattered at about 32,000 feet. The flight was diverted to the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province.
“The windshield burst suddenly and a loud noise was heard, and when I looked to the side, I saw that the co-pilot was already halfway out of the window. Luckily his seatbelt was tied,” Liu told the Chengdu Business Daily.
The safety director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China said at a press conference on Tuesday that the plane “shed its right windshield” as it was flying over Chengdu.
“The windshield has not recorded any failures, nor did it require any maintenance and replacement work” before the incident, Tang Weibin said.
The cause of the incident was still under investigation, he added.
A video published online by the People’s Daily shows oxygen masks deployed, and flight attendants walking up and down the aisle to give passengers instructions on how to disembark.
It was the second emergency landing in China in less than a month.
On April 15, an Air China flight was diverted after a man briefly took hostage a crew member he was threatening with a fountain pen.