'Vaping' pilot causes plane to plunge 21,000ft

'Vaping' pilot causes plane to plunge 21,000ft

'Vaping' pilot causes plane to plunge 21,000ft

A vaping pilot on board an Air China Boeing 737 is believed to have caused his plane to make an emergency descent in search of breathable air on Tuesday.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a press conference in Beijing that the drama was triggered when the co-pilot sought to turn off a ventilation system to prevent his smoke spreading into the main cabin, the respected news site Caixin said.

Chinese airlines have a good safety record, but passengers have accused pilots of smoking during flights, although few such incidents have been confirmed.

"Smoke diffused into the passenger cabin and relevant air conditioning components were wrongly shut off, without notifying the captain, which resulted in insufficient oxygen", it added.

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After the sudden descent to 10,000 feet (approx 3,000 metres), the plane thankfully recovered when it managed to climb back to 26,000 feet (approx 7,900 metres) and ended up arriving safely in Dalian.

Authorities are reportedly investigating the cause "in greater detail", examining both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder to determine precisely what caused the incident.

"China News" said the co-pilot had shut off the air conditioning units.

"I didn't think too much of it at the time - we didn't know what was going on, nor did the flight attendants it seemed", he told CNN on Thursday.

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CAAC official Qiao Yibin said "severe punishment" will be handed "in accordance with laws and regulations", as reported by CNN.

Air China fired the entire flight deck crew and suggested CAAC revoke their pilot's licenses upon completing its investigation, the country's flag carrier said Friday night in a statement.

An Air China staff member has been accused of putting a flight in danger after taking a puff of his vape while flying the aircraft. In the wake of the scare, BBC reports that Air China declared a "zero-tolerance" approach to crew misconduct on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform popular in China.

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