Cause of mid­flight pres­sure loss probed

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By LUO WANGSHU lu­owang­shu@ chi­

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been launched af­ter an Air China flight on Tues­day sud­denly lost al­ti­tude be­tween Hong Kong and Dalian, Liaon­ing prov­ince, caus­ing oxy­gen masks to fall from their com­part­ments be­fore the air­craft climbed again to cruis­ing al­ti­tude.

Flight CA106 even­tu­ally landed safely in Dalian, but in­ves­ti­ga­tors want to know what hap­pened, the Northeast Re­gional Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China said on Thurs­day.

There were 153 pas­sen­gers and nine crew aboard the plane, which landed at Dalian Zhoushuizi In­ter­na­tional Air­port at about 10:30 pm — about an hour late. No in­juries were re­ported, and the air­craft con­tin­ued to op­er­ate nor­mally, the ad­min­is­tra­tion said in a state­ment re­leased on Thurs­day.

Flight data and other ev­i­dence have been sealed, it said, and crew mem­bers have been in­ter­viewed.

The flight data recorder and cock­pit voice recorder have been sent to the China Acad­emy of Civil Avi­a­tion Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy for anal­y­sis. Fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion will be car­ried out based on its find­ings.

Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral flight track­ing apps, the flight left Hong Kong at 7:11 pm, 80 min­utes be­hind sched­ule. It climbed to 10,600 me­ters at 7:40 pm and sud­denly dropped to about 3,000 me­ters at 8 pm. It grad­u­ally climbed again to about 8,000 me­ters.

An un­ver­i­fied report sug­gest­ing the in­ci­dent was the re­sult of pi­lot er­ror went vi­ral on­line on Wed­nes­day. It said that crew mem­bers may have erred when try­ing to turn on an in­ter­nal air cir­cu­la­tion sys­tem in the cock­pit so they could smoke, and that the loss of air pres­sure in the cabin fol­lowed, trig­ger­ing the oxy­gen masks. Crew mem­bers then had dif­fi­culty restor­ing air pres­sure and made a “may­day” distress call to air traf­fic con­trollers, the un­ver­i­fied ac­count said.

Air China re­leased a state­ment on Wed­nes­day say­ing that the crew is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. If the in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds that the crew broke com­pany rules, it said, the air­line will take puni­tive ac­tion, as it has zero tol­er­ance for such be­hav­ior.

Avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tions in ef­fect since 1997 pro­hibit smok­ing in the pas­sen­ger cabin and re­strooms dur­ing a flight — which in­cludes op­er­a­tions on the ground, such as taxi­ing.

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