An Airbus A319 operated by China’s Sichuan Airlines lost one of its cockpit windshields at 32,000 feet on Monday, but was able to land safely.
As reported by the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s south-west region, flight 3U 8633 from Chongqing to Lhasa took off as expected, reached its cruising altitude of 32,000 feet whereupon flight crew noticed cracks in the right windscreen. Not long afterwards, the windscreen broke, left the cockpit exposed and even sucked out some parts of the flight control unit.
Reports from the Chengdu Daily and elsewhere tell us that the disintegrating window injured the co-pilot and a member of cabin crew, de-pressurised the plane and led to the captain quickly descending.
China Aviation Review Tweeted that the pilot diverted to the Chinese city of Chengdu and made an emergency landing, after battling extreme cold, wind, and the absence of some instruments!
#3U8633 Crew had to operate manually because part of FCU sucked out. No windsield, lost pressure, extremely noisy, 300kt wind, multiple failure. This is a remarkable incident in aviation history. Hero pilots saved everyone. pic.twitter.com/ShVyXArh34— ChinaAviationReview (@ChinaAvReview) May 14, 2018
Flight Radar 24’s recording of the flight shows its sudden turnaround and descent
All passengers were uninjured, China’s Civil Aviation Administration will investigate the incident and captain Liu Chuanjian has been hailed as a hero.
Aircraft windshields are laminated and it is possible to keep flying, albeit at lower altitudes, if a crack appears. Windshield loss is rare but survivable, as incidents like British Airways Flight 5390 and this week’s flight demonstrate. ®