Air China flight turns back to Beijing just after take-off because of smoke in cabin

Passenger says plane ‘filled with smoke’ and they were told to leave the aircraft as soon as it landed, according to local newspaper

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 July, 2018, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2018, 6:06pm

An Air China flight had to return to Beijing’s main airport shortly after it took off on Saturday evening when smoke appeared in the cabin, a local newspaper reports.

Flight CA1639 bound for Harbin, in Heilongjiang province near China’s border with Russia, turned back at about 8.30pm after crew and passengers noticed the smoke, The Beijing News reported on Sunday.

The airline transferred passengers to a different plane at the Beijing Capital International Airport for their flight to Harbin.

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One passenger told a family member that the cabin had “filled with smoke” and they had been asked to leave the aircraft immediately after it landed and not to take their luggage with them, the report said.

An Air China spokesperson told the newspaper the plane had returned because of a “strange smell” on the plane, without elaborating.

It comes after an Air China flight went into an emergency descent on July 10, plunging 25,000 feet 30 minutes after it took off from Hong Kong and triggering the release of oxygen masks. The plane then climbed back to 26,000 feet and continued its journey, landing safely in Dalian, Liaoning province.

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The Civil Aviation Administration of China fined the airline 50,000 yuan (US$7,500), cut its flight hours and revoked the licences of two pilots. One of them had been smoking an e-cigarette in the cockpit, and an investigation found he had tried to turn off the circulation fan to prevent smoke from reaching the cabin, but mistakenly switched off the air conditioning instead – resulting in insufficient oxygen in the cabin. A third pilot had his licence suspended for six months and has been banned from flying any Air China plane for two years.