Air China has reported firing pilots of one of its airliners after an incident during the Hong Kong – Dalian flight, the company said on its web page on the Weibo network.
“After the investigation was completed in accordance with the company’s safety standards, it was decided to remove the crew from flights and terminate their labor contracts,” the statement said.
The company emphasized that Air China recommends the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) to recall licenses issued earlier to the pilots.
The incident with Boeing 737 of Air China with 153 passengers on board occurred on July 10. Half an hour after the departure from Hong Kong, the liner began to rapidly lose altitude, and oxygen masks were thrown over the seats of terrified passengers. Within a few minutes the plane descended more than 7 km (21,000 feet), but then regained its altitude, continued on its way and landed safely in Dalian.
The CAAC investigation showed that the cause of the incident was the actions of the co-pilot, who lit an electronic cigarette in his workplace, and then decided to turn off the fan so that no one smelled in the passenger compartment. However, instead of the fan-off button, the pilot mistakenly pressed the neighboring one by turning off the air-conditioning system of the passenger compartment, the South China Morning Post reported citing the CAAC investigation.
After deactivation of the air conditioning system, the oxygen concentration in the cabin of the liner fell, which led to the activation of the safety system.
Air China said they will learn from the incident and will not tolerate actions threatening the safety of passengers.