Smoking Pilots Cause Plane To Drop 6,000 Meters
Passengers aboard Air China flight CA106 experienced something rather frightening during their flight on Tuesday, after the plane descended from more than 10,000 meters to less than 4,000 meters in just under nine minutes. Passengers and flight attendants were unsure why the plane had descended so quickly, and oxygen masks dropped from above the passengers. The flight was carrying 153 passengers and nine crew members, flying from Hong Kong to Dalian, China.
Anonymous sources have revealed that the pilots were smoking in the cockpit, which is against aviation regulations, and caused the pressure to decrease in the cabin after flipping two switches they mistook for air recycling fans. This caused the plane’s altitude to drop over six kilometers in just 9 minutes, however after learning of their error the pilots turned the switches back on and climbed to approximately 7,500 meters.
Air China revealed on Wednesday the incident is being investigated by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The CAAC currently has possession of the plane’s black boxes, which records flight data and audio from the cockpit, and has sent these off to their laboratory for analysis.
“If the investigation discovers crew behaviors that have violated rules and regulations, we will adopt a zero-tolerance attitude and seriously punish those found responsible,” a spokesperson for the airline said.
Due to the drop in pressure in the cabin, the plane continued onto Dalian with less-than-adequate oxygen levels. One of the passengers on the plane, Hoby Sun, said;
“I didn’t think too much of it at the time — we didn’t know what was going on, nor did the flight attendants it seemed. I’m not physically hurt, but the psychological impact lingers. When I close my eyes, I see the oxygen masks dangling in front of me.”