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Air China incident linked to co-pilot smoking e-cigarette
14 July 2018, 01:00 | Erica Roy
Air China co-pilot was smoking e-cigarette and made error leading to plane’s 25,000-foot plunge Chinese aviation authority revealsMore
An Air China jet that plunged 25,000ft in an emergency descent did so after a co-pilot mistakenly turned off air-conditioning systems in a bid to hide his e-cigarette smoke.
Air China flight CA106 was flying to Dalian in northeast China on Tuesday when it dropped from 35,000ft to about 14,000ft, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware.
A co-pilot attempted to vape in the cockpit shortly before the incident, Chinese authorities confirmed.
Instead, the wingman accidentally triggered a drop in oxygen levels, prompting an altitude warning that caused the almost fatal plunge - from 32,800 to 13,100 feet in less than nine minutes, Civil Aviation Administration of China officials told the station.
This blunder caused oxygen levels in the cabin to fall, and triggered the release of oxygen masks from the cabin ceiling, which passengers soon photographed and started sharing to social media. That's the lingering anxiety of a passenger on a recent Air China flight that plummeted thousands of feet after oxygen levels dropped.
Representatives for Air China did not immediately return Fox News' request for additional comment.
The CAAC said it was continuing the investigation and was analysing the aircraft's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
The CAAC official said the incident is being investigated and "severe punishment in accordance with laws and regulations" will be delivered if the investigation proves that the initial finding was the reason behind the incident.
"[We] didn't know what was going on, nor did the flight attendants, it seemed", said Hoby Sun, a passenger on flight CA106.
China bars flight crews from "smoking on all phases of operation", and passengers there haven't been able to use e-cigarettes on planes since 2006.
In 2015, government-run China National Radio said four passengers on an Air China flight from Hong Kong to Beijing smelled strong smoke coming from the cabin.
Air China also said in a previous Weibo post it had a "zero tolerance" approach towards wrongdoing by any crew.
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