Air China Pilot Fired for Vaping in Cockpit, Dropping Oxygen Masks

by Sam Roecker
Air China 106 Oxygen Masks Weibo

Air China 106 Oxygen Masks | Photo: Weibo

Chinese Authorities: Vaping Co-Pilot on Air China Flight 106 Caused Oxygen Masks to Drop

There’s a reason flight attendants include oxygen mask demonstrations in the preflight safety briefing. Although crew do not ‘anticipate a change in cabin pressure’ as a result of the co-pilot vaping in the cockpit, it’s probably wise to pay attention in case, well, your co-pilot does actually decide to vape.

Officials from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) allege an Air China co-pilot attempted to turn off air recycling fans to prevent vapor from entering the cabin. Instead of turning off the fans, the co-pilot accidentally toggled switches that resulted in insufficient oxygen.

Qiao Yibin, a CAAC official, was quoted saying:
Smoke diffused into the passenger cabin and relevant air conditioning components were wrongly shut off, without notifying the captain, which resulted in insufficient oxygen.

Oxygen Masks Deploy

Nine crew and 153 passengers were traveling on Air China flight 106 from Hong Kong (HKG) to Dalian (DLC) when oxygen masks deployed. Flight attendants reportedly assisted passengers with oxygen masks throughout the cabin.

A passenger video shows the cabin after the incident. Automatic announcements instruct passengers to place the oxygen masks over their nose and mouth. “Sit back, and breathe normally,” the video says in a calm voice.

Descending 20,000 Feet in Nine Minutes

The Boeing 737-800 descended from 32,000 feet (10,000 meters) to 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) in approximately nine minutes, according to Chinese officials. Playback of Air China CA106 from FlightRadar24 also shows the incredible change in altitude:

Air China Flight CA106 | Image: FlightRadar24

Air China Confirms “Zero Tolerance” Policy, Suspends Pilots

Air China released a statement on Weibo – a platform similar to Twitter – confirmed the company’s “zero tolerance” policy toward safety violations. Air China suspended the flight crew and terminated their labor contracts, according to China Daily.

Air China Flight CA106

Air China Statement on CA106 – “Zero Tolerance” | Image: Weibo

Friendly Reminder from ‘Deltalina’: Smoking Is Not Allowed on Any Flight

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