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14th of May 2018

An Airbus A319-133 was operating a domestic flight between the cities of Chongqing (China) and Lhasa (Tibet) on this day in aviation history in 2018. Onboard 128 occupants, 3 pilots, 6cabin crew and 119 passengers.

The window frame is still in place, but the glass missing (Source and © CAAC)

At 06.27 lt (local time), the aircraft lifted off from Chongqing Jiangbei Airport and climbed to its cruise altitude of 32100 feet (9800 meters) and the crew settled in for the cruise section of the ~947 miles (1525 kilometer) flight. At 07.07 lt an abnormal sound was heard on the flightdeck and a crack was observed in the right windshield. As the co-pilot grabbed his Electronic Flight Bag to get access to the QRH, the captain contacted ATC and requested a diversion to Chengdu.

With permission received from ATC, the captain initiated a descent.

While descending and while the co-pilot was paging through the QRH the right window suddenly popped out of its frame causing an explosive decompression of the aircraft. The force of the decompression airflow caused the co-pilot's body to be blown out of his seat and in doing so displaced his side stick forward and to the right. This caused the autopilot to disconnect and the aircraft to roll to the right and pitch down. The captain immediate regained control of the aircraft but then had great problems getting his oxygen mask with his right hand as he didn't want to let go of the sidestick. (The oxygen masks for the flight crew are on the outboard side of their seat in the cockpit side panel). With the aircraft shaking violently and the fact he had to use his left hand to fly the aircraft, the captain could not get his oxygen mask. The rat of decent then increased from 3000 ft/min to a maximum of 10.279 ft/min.

The crew opted for an ILS landing on runway 02R at Chengdu as the ILS for runway 02L was not available. ATC was informed of their intentions and was vectored to the ILS 02R where the aircraft made an overweight landing at 07.41 lt.

Damage to the aircraft was extensive, besides the window the following damage was apparent;

  • The co-pilot's glare shield panel ripped out

  • FCU (Flight Control Unit) dislocated

  • Right-hand engine

  • RIght-hand wing

  • Right-hand horizontal stabiliser

Damage to the flight deck (Source and ©CAAC)

An investigation was launched by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). On the 2nd of June 2020, the =y published their final report on the accident. The report is available by clicking here, please note the report is in Chinese. The most likely cause was determined to be water ingress through deteriorated weather seal on the window. different sources on the internet provide different theories on the sequence of events that started with the water ingress. They vary from short circuits caused by the water, to the water freezing at altitude. Based on the pictures in the CAAC report the most likely cause seems to be a short circuit due to moisture.

Ultimately whichever the exact cause, tensions in the window caused the windshield glass to be ejected from the window frame, which was still in place.

Investigation in progress (Source & © CAAC)


V2 Aviation has not been able to obtain a certified translation of the CAAC report. This blog was written using several open sources on the internet. Should there be any inaccuracies in the blog please let us know!

exiting the aircraft via the hole where the windshield used to be, caused the

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