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CAAC takes action against pilots, Air China after 737 incident

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has taken action against Air China and three staff involved in a 10 July depressurisation incident involving one of its Boeing 737-800s.

China Central Television reports that the Administration has launched a three-month safety review of the national carrier, ordered a 10% reduction of the airline's Boeing 737 flying hours, suspended its applications for new routes, and imposed a CNY50,000 ($7,500) fine on it.

The action follows an incident where one of the airline's 737-800s, registered B-5851, operating a flight from Hong Kong to Dalian depressurised while at cruising altitude, forcing the crew to make an emergency descent to 10,000ft before landing safely in Dalian.

There were 153 passengers and nine crew on the flight, and no injuries were reported. Flight tracking web sites indicate the aircraft has returned to service.

The CAAC says that the depressurisation was triggered by the co-pilot "accidentally" turning off the aircraft's air-conditioning unit, instead of a circulating fan. It also found that the co-pilot had used an e-cigarette during the flight.

In addition to the penalties imposed on Air China, the regulator has revoked the license of the pilot flying. The pilot monitoring's license has been suspended for six months and grounded him for two years, while the flight dispatcher's license has been suspended for two years.

Air China said through its Weibo account that it has since terminated the employment contract of the employees involved in the incident.

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