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AA Flight Diverted After Pilot Dies Mid-Flight

A medical emergency was declared aboard an American flight Monday morning after the captain became incapacitated.

When the pilot of an American Airlines flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) lost consciousness Monday morning, the crew did everything possible to save the captain’s life. The first officer quickly declared a medical emergency and made plans to divert the aircraft to nearby Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) where emergency workers and an ambulance would be waiting. Meanwhile a flight attendant onboard, who also happened to be a trained nurse, worked desperately to revive the stricken pilot.

Unfortunately, the crew’s quick thinking and training were not enough to save the life of the ailing pilot. The captain of AA 550 died before the plane touched down at SYR.

Communications between the flight deck and air traffic control obtained by The Boston Globe illustrate an increasingly serious emergency in the sky as it unfolded. A message from the plane initially reported to air traffic control that the “captain is incapacitated.” A subsequent report to the ground informed controllers that situation was even more dire, saying, “pilot is unresponsive, not breathing.”

Details on the Captain’s identity have not been released by the airline and there is no word on the exact nature of the sudden medical emergency that took the captain’s life.

American spokesman Ross Feinstein told FlyerTalk the following in an email statement:

American Airlines Flight 550, an Airbus A320, diverted to Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) early this morning due to pilot illness. Unfortunately, our pilot passed away. We are incredibly saddened by this event, and we are focused on caring for our pilot’s family and colleagues.

We are also taking care of our customers and sent a replacement crew to SYR to get them to Boston.

The flight originally left Phoenix at 11:55 p.m. local time and landed in SYR at 7:13 a.m. local time. There were 147 passengers and a crew of five.

Louise Anderson, a passenger on the flight, told reporters that passengers were not informed the the pilot has passed away until the announcement was made on the public address system of the rescheduled flight to BOS.

“I think everybody was a little bit freaked at first, but also any annoyances were gone at that point, because we were thinking about the poor pilot’s family and the crew involved,” Anderson explained. “I guess for me it makes me really grateful that the backup pilot was there, and it didn’t cause any pandemonium. Everyone handled it so professionally.”

[Photo: American Airlines]

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UncleDude October 6, 2015

Thank God the co-pilot was not in the Rest Room