Chinese plane forced to turn back for emergency landing

Beijing: An airplane flying from China to Vietnam turned back to make an emergency landing after cracks appeared in a window, just two weeks after another airliner’s cockpit window broke mid-flight in the country, state media said.

The Beijing Capital Airlines flight bound for Nha Trang in southern Vietnam with 211 people aboard returned to the eastern city of Hangzhou around an hour after take-off on Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

“After an hour of flight, the plane suddenly jolted violently,” a passenger surnamed Zhang told state broadcaster CCTV.

“An inflight announcement said the plane was encountering turbulence. I have been on a lot of flights and I had never witnessed such strong turbulence. Many of the children in the cabin were scared and crying.”

Passengers were given 400 yuan (RM240) in compensation, CCTV said. Several disgruntled passengers refused to board an alternative flight because they considered the compensation too low and were upset that the airline did not offer an apology, it said.

The aircraft was an Airbus A321, according to plane tracking website FlightAware.

The head of aviation for Beijing Capital Airlines told Xinhua that cracks had appeared in a window but not the cockpit window as some passengers had claimed.

But an explanatory note given to passengers with the airline’s official seal, which is being circulated on social media, only said the flight was cancelled due to “mechanical failure”.

The airline, a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group and Airbus, could not be reached for comment.

It was the third window-related incident on a plane since April.

A Sichuan Airlines plane carrying 128 people made an emergency landing in southwest China on May 14 after a cockpit window broke at 32,000 feet (9,800m), sucking the co-pilot partly out of the aircraft.

The pilot was hailed a “hero” for safely landing the flight. Only two people were injured.

In April, a woman died after being partially sucked out of a Southwest Airlines flight headed to Dallas from New York when a porthole was shattered mid-flight.

Flying shrapnel from an engine explosion broke a window in the Boeing 737 flight with 144 passengers, which was safely landed by the pilot. — AFP

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