Two Air China pilots have lost their aviation licenses and been fired just days after vaping midflight, causing the air craft to suddenly drop 21,000 feet and triggering the deployment of oxygen masks.
On July 18, BBC reported the penalties for the two aviators, whose names remain unclear at this time. The incident occurred aboard Flight CA106 from Hong Kong to Dalian on July 10, about 30 minutes after its 5:55 p.m. takeoff.
Allegedly, the unnamed male co-pilot “tried to hide the fact that he was smoking” in the cockpit and attempted to turn off a fan to prevent smoke from reaching the passenger cabin “without telling the captain,” but accidentally turned off the air-conditioning unit instead, according to an initial report by BBC.
This blunder caused oxygen levels in the cabin to fall, and triggered the release of oxygen masks from the cabin ceiling, which passengers soon photographed and started sharing to social media. Crew members were then quickly forced to drop the plane by 21,000 feet, before returning to a safe cruising altitude.
The flight went on to land in Dalian without incident.
According to The Telegraph, soon after the story broke, the incident was trending on Chinese social media, “with some commentators demanding harsh punishment and revocation of the pilot's flight license.”
Since 2006, Chinese aviation regulations ban all flight crews and passengers from “smoking on all phases of operation.”
Fox News’ Alexandra Deabler contributed to this report.