Pilots and other cabin crew can no longer smoke in the cockpits of domestic flights in China.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China issued a notice this week to enforce the ban on in-flight smoking with immediate effect, China Daily reported Friday. First-time violators, including those who smoke electronic cigarettes, will be suspended for 12 months and repeat offenders will be barred for 36 months. Airlines must carry out routine inspections, the regulator said.
China’s government had outlawed in-flight smoking in October 2017, but individual airlines were given two more years before the cockpit ban was to take effect. The latest order, which scraps the extra time the carriers got, follows recent incidents that have triggered safety concerns.
In July, an Air China Ltd. pilot mistakenly switched off the cabin air-conditioner, when he actually wanted to turn off a circulation fan to prevent smoke from reaching the cabin, causing the Boeing Co. 737 aircraft to descend rapidly and oxygen masks to drop during a flight to Dalian from Hong Kong.
Cabin crew who fail to stop other members from smoking in the cockpit will also be suspended for six months, the regulator said. Penalties could be more severe should smoking result in serious consequences, it said.
The International Civil Aviation Organization prohibited smoking on all international flights more than two decades ago due to growing health concerns, and most airlines around the world have complied with the ICAO rule.
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