The co-pilot of a Sichuan Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing on Monday was sucked half way out of the plane after a cockpit windshield blew out.
Captain Liu Chuanjian, hailed as a hero on social media after having to land the Airbus A319 manually, told the Chengdu Economic Daily his aircraft had just reached a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet when a deafening sound tore through the cockpit.
The cockpit had a sudden loss of pressure and drop in temperature and when he looked over, the cockpit's right windshield was gone.
"There was no warning sign," said Liu. "Suddenly, the windshield just cracked and made a loud bang. The next thing I knew, my co-pilot had been sucked half way out of the window.
"Everything in the cockpit was floating in the air. Most of the equipment malfunctioned and I couldn't hear the radio. The plane was shaking so hard I could not read the gauges," he said.
The co-pilot, who was wearing a seatbelt, was pulled back in. He suffered scratches and a sprained wrist, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said, adding another cabin crew member was injured. None of the 119 passengers were injured.
"The crew were serving us breakfast when the aircraft began to shake," said a passenger. "Then the oxygen masks dropped."
Incidents of cracked windshields are usually due to bird or lightning strikes but ones involving entire windshields coming off are rare.