Air China has fired the pilot crew responsible for causing flight CA106 to plunge due to the co-pilot smoking an e-cigarette in the cockpit, according to the airline's statement Friday night.
After the company's internal investigation, the airline has decided to "suspend pilot qualifications for the pilot crew responsible, and terminate their labor contracts in accordance with the law," the statement said.
The airline has also "seriously dealt" with related managerial staff who are responsible for the incident, and advised the Civil Aviation Administration of China to withdraw the pilot crew's flight licenses after a full investigation had been done.
The airline has launched companywide safety education to comprehensively eliminate security threats. It promises to learn from the mistake and maintain a "zero-tolerance attitude toward safety violations."
On Tuesday, a half hour after flight CA106 left Hong Kong for Dalian carrying 153 passengers and nine crew members, oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling, and the plane plummeted to an altitude of 3,000 meters as it was traveling near Guangzhou's air space in Guangdong province, a CAAC official said in a news briefing on Friday.
The Boeing 737 later climbed back to an altitude of 8 kilometers and arrived safely at its destination. No injuries were reported, and the aircraft was not damaged.
Preliminary investigations found that the co-pilot had, without telling the pilot, attempted to turn off a circulation fan to prevent smoke from his electronic cigarette from reaching the cabin.
However, the co-pilot mistakenly switched off the air conditioning unit that was next to it, resulting in insufficient oxygen in the cabin and an altitude warning.