Friday, 13 July 2018

E-Cig puffing first officer causes rapid descent of Air China flight.

It has been revealed that a member of the flight deck crew puffing away on an electronic cigarette caused a rapid descent of an Air China this week.

According to investigators, the co-pilot had been smoking an e-cigarette or vaping on the Air China flight from Hong Kong to the city of Dalian and had tried to cover the fact but accidentally shut off the air-conditioning in the process causing oxygen levels to fall in the cabin.

The crew on Tuesday's flight released oxygen masks and brought the aircraft more than 21.000ft lower while they tried to work out what was going on. The aircraft later returned to its cruising altitude. 

The initial investigation from the Civil Aviation Administration of China found that the co-pilot tried to turn off a fan to stop smoke reaching the passenger cabin, yet did so without informing the captain, however, he turned off the air-conditioning unit instead.

According to local media, passengers on the flight were told to fasten seat belts as the plane had to descend urgently. They were concerned when oxygen masks fell from the ceiling panels above them. 

The CAAC safety officer Qiao Yibin commented that the crew had to perform emergency measures, including dropping oxygen masks until they could figure out the problem. It is standard airline procedure to immediately descend to a lower altitude as soon as an aircraft loses cabin pressure, to ensure crew and passengers can breathe without the aid of the emergency oxygen supply. 

During their checks, as soon as the crew noticed the air conditioning was turned off, they reactivated it and returned the aircraft to its normal cruising altitude for the route. 

A full investigation is ongoing which will examine both the flight data and cockpit voice recorders to fully understand exactly what happened in detail, Qiao Yibin said. While Air China says it has a "zero-tolerance" stance on crew misbehaviour.