Air China crew grounded after co-pilot’s vaping caused mid-air emergency

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Air China cuts flights and penalized crew after descent scare

Air China cockpit crew involved in a mid-air emergency sparked by smoke from a co-pilot’s vape have had their flying licences canceled.

Authorities have also cut the number of 737 flights operated by the flag-carrier Air China, state media reported on Wednesday.


An Air China 737 made a rapid emergency descent of more than 6,500 metres (21,000ft) last week after the co-pilot mistakenly turned off air-conditioning systems in an attempt to conceal his e-cigarette smoke.

The incident, which resulted in the deployment of passenger oxygen masks, occurred on a flight from Hong Kong to the north-eastern city of Dalian.

The CAAC said the drama was triggered when the co-pilot, trying to prevent his vape smoke from spreading into the main cabin, accidentally switched off the air-conditioning. That led to a decrease in cabin oxygen levels, which in turn set off an emergency warning system indicating the jet may have flown too high and instructing the pilots to quickly descend.

Cigarette Smoking is prohibited onboard Chinese commercial passenger flights. There were no injuries to the 153 passengers and nine crew, the CAAC has said.

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