In the latest event, which occurred in China on Monday, one of the panes in the cockpit of a Sichuan Airlines Airbus 319 inexplicably shattered on a flight from Chongqing in southwest China, to Lhasa in Tibet.
After 20 minutes without a windshield, Mr Liu was able to safely land the plane. He told a local paper that there was no warning sign. The plane took off at 6:27 a.m. and climbed to 9,800 meters (32,000 feet) when its right-hand windshield "suddenly burst and fell off, causing the cabin to lose pressure and passenger oxygen masks to drop", the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement on its website. "The next thing I know my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the window", he was quoted as saying.
The plane was vibrating strongly and it was impossible to read the instruments, said Liu, who was a former flight instructor in the Chinese air force.
It was no easy task bringing the plane in for an emergency landing as it was "jolting strongly", making the aircraft hard to control. A passenger said, "The crew was serving us breakfast when the aircraft began to shake".
A Sichuan Airlines co-pilot has suffered injuries after the cockpit windshield of his Airbus A319 shattered and separated from the aircraft. While some netizens asked for rewarding the captain, others called for better safety measures.
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"The windshield has not recorded any failures, nor did it require any maintenance and replacement work" before the incident, Tang Weibin said. The pilot's injuries were minor including scratches and a sprained wrist. Back on April 17, a Southwest flight over the USA experienced a passenger cabin window getting blown out and a passenger was partially sucked out of the aircraft through that hole. The plane landed and evacuated all passengers safely.
Sichuan Airlines based in Chengdu, mainly operates domestic flights. "People were shocked", an unidentified passenger said.
But a string of recent inflight incidents involving broken windows have caused alarm among many travelers, to the point where at least one consumer survey shows that a few fliers are even avoiding window seat assignments.
The cockpit windshield is a very important part of an aircraft and may be the strongest glass on the craft. The captain was sucked halfway out the BAC 1-11's window but survived because cabin crew held on to his legs while the co-pilot made an emergency landing.
With the plane's autopilot system down, Liu added that he had no other choice than to fly the craft manually and that he felt confident in doing so because he has "flown this route 100 times and knows everything very well".