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Co-pilot tried to hide e-cigarette smoke, sparked mid-air emergency instead

14 July 2018

An emergency descent which saw an Air China plane drop thousands of feet allegedly took place after a co-pilot started smoking an e-cigarette during the flight.

The airhead aviator was soaring from Hong Kong to the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian in a Boeing 737 jet Tuesday when he tried to stop vapor from his e-cigarette from wafting into the passenger cabin, according to CNN.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a press conference in Beijing that the drama was triggered when the co-pilot sought to turn off a ventilation system to prevent his smoke spreading into the main cabin, the respected news site Caixin said.

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Reuters notes that even though China's airlines have a pretty decent safety record, pilots are sometimes accused by passengers of smoking during flights.

The flight then levelled off before climbing again to continue on to Dalian.

"Smoke diffused into the passenger cabin and relevant air conditioning components were wrongly shut off, without notifying the captain, which resulted in insufficient oxygen", it added.

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Now, officials are reportedly investigating the incident "in greater detail", reviewing the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder for more information.

China bars flight crews from "smoking on all phases of operation", and passengers there haven't been able to use e-cigarettes on planes since 2006.

Air China said it would terminate the contracts of the employees involved in the emergency descent incident, and suggested that the CAAC cancel their licences, it said on its official account on China's Weibo.

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"[We] didn't know what was going on, nor did the flight attendants, it seemed", said Hoby Sun, a passenger on flight CA106. The statement said: "If the investigation reveals that the crew has violated regulations, the company will seriously deal with the responsible person with zero tolerance".

Co-pilot tried to hide e-cigarette smoke, sparked mid-air emergency instead