SHANGHAI—A windscreen blowout on a Airbus A319 of China’s Sichuan Airlines on May 14 began with a crack appearing while the aircraft was flying at 9,800 m (32,000 ft.) at Mach 0.74–0.75, the carrier says.
When the window burst, the pilot in the right seat, near the broken window, was slightly injured. A cabin attendant was slightly hurt during the descent, says the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). No passengers suffered injuries.
The crew aborted the flight to Chengdu, in southwestern China.
The flight was flying from Chongqing in southwestern China to Lhasa in the western province Tibet. CAAC insists on strong qualifications for flight crews operating services to high-altitude locations such as Tibet.
Sichuan Airlines has given a remarkably quick and detailed account of the incident in Chinese. An edited translation follows:
“On May 14, while a Sichuan Airlines A319-100 operating a flight from Chongqing to Lhasa was flying at 9,800 m at Mach 0.74–0.75 in the vicinity of the MIKOS waypoint [about 370 km (230 mi.) WNW of Chongqing and 110 km WNW of Chengdu], the crew noticed that a crack had appeared in the inner left windscreen. The crew immediately requested permission to descend and return. At this time the electronic centralized aircraft monitor (ECAM) issued an ice warning for the right windscreen.”
“The right windscreen burst. The crew, handling the situation according to procedures, immediately descended, reduced speed and donned oxygen masks. Radio contact was impossible, because of noise, so the crew adjusted the transponder to 7700 [the emergency code]. At the same time, oxygen masks deployed in the cabin and cabin attendants made announcements and handled the situation. After a check for an overweight landing, the aircraft landed safely at 7:42 a.m.”
“From an initial investigation, this incident entailed a loss of pressurization due to a burst windscreen, normal handling of the situation by the crew according to requirements, and a safe alternate landing at Chengdu. One first officer and one cabin attendant suffered light injuries.”
The aircraft entered service on July 26, 2011 and up to May 14, 2018 had flown 19,912.25 hr. and 12,920 cycles, Sichuan Airlines says. As to maintenance, its most recent A check was done on April 4 and most recent C beck on March 9, 2017.