AN investigation has been launched after an Air China jet plummeted over 20,000ft when smoke from a pilot's e-cigarette entered the cabin.
Air China flight CA106, en route from Hong Kong to the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian, descended from above 10,000 meters to below 4,000 meters n less than nine minutes Tuesday shortly after it reached cruising altitude, according to phone Global Positioning System data shared with CNN by a passenger on board.
Instead of turning off a fan to prevent the vapors from reaching the passenger cabin, he turned off the passengers' air conditioning.
A senior official from the Civil Aviation Administration of China tells CNN the reason for the descent stems from a co-pilot smoking an e-cigarette.
A co-pilot attempted to vape in the cockpit shortly before the incident, Chinese authorities confirmed.
The CAAC has said there were no injuries to the 153 passengers and nine crew.
In desperation, the pilot reportedly hit the wrong switches, which dropped oxygen levels in the plane, triggering altitude warnings.
The flight then levelled off before climbing again to continue on to Dalian.
The crew realised the problem after the descent and restored the air conditioning, allowing cabin pressure to return to normal, he said.
The CAAC said it had requested the aircraft's flight data and cockpit voice recorder as part of its probe.
A clumsy co-pilot caused an Air China plane to plunge almost 20,000 feet midair when he pulled the wrong switch while trying to shut off an air recycling system - so he could vape in the cockpit.
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