Up in smoke: Vaping China co-pilot sparks mid-air emergency

This file photo taken on April 6, 2017 shows Air China planes parked at the Beijing Capital International Airport. (AFP)
Updated 14 July 2018
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Up in smoke: Vaping China co-pilot sparks mid-air emergency

  • Co-pilot accidentally switched off air-conditioning instead, leading to a decrease in cabin oxygen levels
  • The incident, which resulted in the deployment of passenger oxygen masks

SHANGHAI: An Air China jet made a rapid emergency descent after a co-pilot mistakenly turned off air-conditioning systems in a bid to conceal his e-cigarette smoke, Chinese media quoted the country’s civil aviation authority as saying Friday.
The incident, which resulted in the deployment of passenger oxygen masks, occurred Tuesday on a flight by the Chinese flag carrier from Hong Kong to the city of Dalian in northeastern China.
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.
Smoking is not allowed aboard Chinese commercial passenger flights.
But the co-pilot accidentally switched off air-conditioning instead, leading to a decrease in cabin oxygen levels.
That set off an emergency warning system indicating that the 737 jet may have flown too high and instructing the pilots to quickly descend.
Chinese media reports quoted passengers and flight-tracker sites as saying the plane may have descended as much as several thousand meters.
The CAAC said the aircraft dropped down to low as 3,000 meters (10,000 feet), without specifying its original altitude.
Video from aboard the flight that was later posted on social media showed oxygen masks hanging down from the ceiling throughout the cabin, but no signs of panic.
The CAAC has said there were no injuries to the 153 passengers and nine crew.
It added that it was continuing to investigate the incident.


US peace envoy in Pakistan seeking end to 17-year Afghan war

Updated 47 min 16 sec ago
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US peace envoy in Pakistan seeking end to 17-year Afghan war

  • The US Embassy said on Thursday that Khalilzad will meet with senior Pakistani officials
  • Khalilzad has accelerated efforts to end the war in Afghanistan since his appointment

ISLAMABAD: Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan on the last leg of his regional tour aimed at finding a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s 17-year war, which will allow American troops to go home, ending Washington’s longest military engagement.
The US Embassy said on Thursday that Khalilzad will meet with senior Pakistani officials, without elaborating further.
Khalilzad has accelerated efforts to end the war in Afghanistan since his appointment. On his previous visits he held talks with the Taliban in the Middle East. He has no plans to travel to the Mideast on this tour, but there are reports he may meet the Taliban during his visit to Pakistan.
If a meeting is held, it’s likely Khalilzad will press for direct talks with Kabul, something the Taliban have refused.