A Sichuan Airlines Airbus A319 suffered a cabin decompression following the loss of the starboard cockpit windshield on May 14. Flight 3U8633, carrying 128 people, had flown for 41 minutes from Chongqing to Lhasa when the incident happened.
According to the Civil Administration of China (CAAC) Southwest Regional Administration preliminary report, the right cockpit windscreen first developed cracks following an electronic centralized aircraft monitor (ECAM) warning on windscreen heating before the windscreen burst and separated.
In an interview, pilot Liu Chuanjian said that his copilot was partially sucked out from his seat but that his seat belt held him in place.
The aircraft dropped from 32,000 feet to 25,000 feet within a minute during initial decompression, before the pilots conducted a controlled descent into Chengdu airport. Oxygen masks deployed but none of the passengers suffered injuries. The copilot suffered a waist sprain and a flight attendant suffered superficial injuries during the descent.
The same report also said that the aircraft accumulated 19,912 flight hours during 12,920 flight cycles. It underwent its last C-check on March 9, 2017, and its last A-check on April 12 this year.
Airbus manufactured the A319, registered as B-6419 (S/N 4660), at its Tianjin facility and delivered it to Sichuan Airlines in July 2011. Sichuan Airlines flies 23 A319s and ranks as the largest all-Airbus operator in China.
“Airbus will provide all necessary support to the CAAC and [France's] BEA on the investigation on the 3U8633 incident,” said an Airbus spokesman. “Airbus has assigned and dispatched a team of technicians to provide support to the BEA and CAAC, which is leading the investigation.”