The Chinese pilot, Liu Chuanjian, was awarded the nearly five million yuan and the title of “hero captain of China’s civil aviation,” Xinhua News Agency reported.
Chuanjian was operating the plane to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, when a windshield suddenly shattered at 32,000 feet above ground and pulled his co-pilot, who was wearing his seatbelt, out of the window.
“Suddenly, the windshield just cracked and made a loud bang,” he reportedly said. “The next thing I know, my co-pilot had been sucked halfway out of the window.”
Chunajian was forced to immediately land the Airbus A319 carrying 119 passengers.
The co-pilot reportedly suffered only minor scratches. None of the passengers were injured.
Other members of the airline crew were also awarded for successfully handling the emergency, the Daily Mail reported.
Xu Ruichen, the 27-year-old co-pilot received one million yuan, ($156,228). The deputy captain, Liang Peng, was awarded two million yuan ($312,456), and six other crew members were given one million yuan between them, Xinhua reported.
The May 14 incident was investigated by authorities.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, China Southern Airlines said a “mechanical failure” was to blame.
Additional reporting by Edmund DeMarche.