Airbus responds after Sichuan Airlines windshield blowout

Investigators enter the aircraft cabin after the plane made an emergency landing at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, Sichuan province, May 14, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Airbus said it has assigned and dispatched a team of technicians to provide support to the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, or BEA, of France and the Civil Aviation Administration of China, which is leading the investigation of the reason behind the blowout of the front windshield of an Airbus A319 plane during its flight.

Sichuan Airlines Flight 3U8633 was flying from Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport of Chongqing municipality to Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region, on Monday morning. At around 7 am and 100 kilometers after it took off, the right cockpit windshield suddenly shattered and the aircraft abruptly lost altitude for five or six seconds.

The pilot was later able to make an emergency landing at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport about 45 minutes after the incident, saving all 119 passengers and nine crew members aboard.

An investigative group set up by the CAAC had arrived earlier in Chengdu, Sichuan province, to look into the accident.

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus said in a statement that aircraft windshields are made of several layers of tough materials and are extremely hard to break. The one that blew out was original and had no record of problems or repairs, a preliminary investigation found.

The flight 3U8633 was operated by an A319-100 (MSN4660, registration B-6419). The aircraft was delivered to Sichuan Airlines in July 2011 and has to date accumulated some 19,942 flight hours, according to the statement.

Airbus will provide all necessary support to the CAAC and BEA on the investigation into the 3U8633 incident.

While the investigation is ongoing and in line with the Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13 regulation, Airbus refrains from any further comment on its progress, it said.