Pilot gets 'sucked halfway out' of cockpit when windshield shatters

"The entire aircraft was vibrating and it was impossible to see the instruments and it was hard to operate", pilot Liu Chuanjian told reporters from the Chengdu Business Daily of the ordeal.

'Everything in the cockpit was floating in the air.

The pilot added that the cabin equipment malfunctioned as a result and it was so noisy he could not hear the wireless.

Calls to Liu's cellphone by China Daily went unanswered on Monday evening. "Give the pilot a raise!" another user commented below the Sichuan Airline post.

Sichuan Airlines Flight 3U8633 left the central Chinese municipality of Chongqing on Monday bound for the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.

The windshield shattered about 7 am at least 100 kilometers into the journey. It lasted for about five, six seconds.

"The crew were serving us breakfast when the aircraft began to shake".

Later, the captain spoke to the Chengdu Economic Daily about the ordeal.

One passenger said the plane suddenly descended causing luggage and lunch boxes to drop to the floor (right).

Mobile phone footage emerged online shows flight attendants asking passengers to wear oxygen masks and putting on safety belts. "When we finally landed, some of the women were in tears", he said.

Chuanjian said he saw his co-pilot being sucked halfway out of the window, but he managed to pull him back.

Sichuan Airlines Airbus's co-pilot was sucked halfway after a cockpit windshield blew out forcing an emergency landing. A cabin attendant also suffered a minor injury as the plane suddenly lost altitude. "The crew responded calmly and properly handled it in an emergency".

However, in 1990 the same thing did happen to a British Airways plane flying from Birmingham to Malaga. With the captain pressed against the window frame for 20 minutes, the co-pilot made a safe landing.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said France's BEA accident investigation agency and Airbus would send staff to China to investigate, according to CAAC News which is affiliated to the aviation regulator.

"The windshield has not recorded any failures, nor did it require any maintenance and replacement work" before the incident, Tang Weibin said.

"A sudden pressure change can cause great damage to the eardrum".

Reports suggest that the windshield was part of the original aircraft and had no previously recorded faults.

The last known emergency of that kind occurred nearly three decades ago, in 1990, when a British Airways pilot survived a similar incident at an altitude of 23,000 feet.

Vanessa Coleman