The cockpit was in chaos.
The plane was flying at a height of about 9,700 meters when an extremely loud sound was heard in the cockpit, Liu said. "Fortunately his seat belt was fastened".
Sichuan Airlines, a regional airline headquartered in Chengdu, operates mostly domestic flights but also flies internationally to countries such as Japan, Canada and the Czech Republic. No one was killed.
He added, "When I looked at the other side, the co-pilot was partially blown out of the aircraft". A cabin attendant also suffered a minor injury as the plane suddenly lost altitude due to the incident.
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Sichuan Airlines issued a statement via Chinese social media citing "mechanical failure", as a possible cause. Airbus said Tuesday it has assigned a team to investigate and will cooperate with Chinese authorities.
"We thank all passengers on this flight for their understanding and tolerance ..."
After landing, most passengers were transferred to another flight to Lhasa, but 29 passengers were sent to the hospital, one with a sprain and another with bruising, China Central TV reported.
One of the unharmed passengers told China News Service of their ordeal: "The crew were serving us breakfast when the aircraft began to shake".
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Unbeknownst to them, the pilot was trying to steer the aircraft with his co-pilot partially out of the windshield.
According to Oliver McGee, professor of engineering and former Deputy Assistant Secretary in the US Department of Transportation, there is a cracked or shattered cockpit windshield incident "every week or two". Most of the equipment malfunctioned. and I couldn't hear the radio. "Just a huge noise", CNN quoted Capt. Liu Chuanjian as saying. "The entire aircraft was vibrating - it was impossible to see the instruments and it was hard to operate".
More photos from inside the cockpit show the right-hand windshield completely missing.
"The incident happened at 7 o'clock".
"There was no sign before the windshield burst".
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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!