View Full Version : American Airlines 777 Pilot Heart Attack - Divert to LAS

26th Jul 2001, 20:11
July 26, 2001

Jet Makes Emergency Landing in Vegas

Filed at 10:12 a.m. ET

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A passenger jet bound for London was forced to make an emergency landing in Las Vegas when its pilot suffered a heart attack.

American Airlines Flight 136 from Los Angeles landed safely at McCarran International Airport at about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, airport spokeswoman Linda Healey said.

The passengers included a nurse and a doctor who tended to the pilot while another officer flew the jet.

The pilot, whose name was not immediately released, was taken to Desert Springs Hospital, where he was in stable condition.

McCarran officials were notified of the pilot's symptoms shortly after the Boeing 777 took off, Healey said.

When it landed, paramedics rushed to the plane and removed the pilot. Healey said the flight's 214 passengers remained on board for about an hour until a gate at the airport became available.

The Bluesmobile
27th Jul 2001, 00:37
Which Pilot was it?

[ 26 July 2001: Message edited by: The Bluesmobile ]

27th Jul 2001, 15:44
Another Officer?

Was he not a pilot then?

27th Jul 2001, 16:41
Excelent response from LAS authorities, maybe this saved the Pilot's life, not like in Taipei some time ago, when the Captain suffered a heart attack and the F/O executed and exellent job bringing the aeroplane back to land safely, but, for God knows why, the airport authorities didn't allow an emergency equipment to the aeroplane until it had been towed all the way to the gate. This took more than 30 minutes, in such a way that when the Captain made it to the Hospital the Doctors culdn't do anything to save him.
Of course, the airpot authorities are clean, just as in the SIA Jumbo case.
Only a comment for 123.45 :mad:

29th Jul 2001, 23:37
Yet another story that makes me wish for three-person cockpit crew. . . .

29th Jul 2001, 23:47
It's not hard to land a jet on your own - its called an autoland! It's something we practice in the sim for. You get another pilot (if there's one travelling down the back), or the senior cabin attendant to read the checklist. It's an extremely rare event, thankfully.

30th Jul 2001, 00:05
I wasn't necessarily worried about landing. . .just about having one less person available in general. What if something happened to the other pilot? Are any of the cabin crew trained to land the plane in an emergency?

30th Jul 2001, 00:25
Negative on any of the cabin crew being trained to land the plane.

There is usually one or more pilots riding in the back, either on holiday or positioning
to next assingment.
Should not be a problem that both pilots die and the plane crashes.
The only time it happened, both pilots were shot by a mad pax. California, 1986 or 87 if I remember correctly.

30th Jul 2001, 00:40
>>The only time it happened, both pilots were shot by a mad pax. California, 1986 or 87 if I remember correctly.<<

Actually, it's happened at least a couple of times in California:


05/07/1964 Pacific Air Lines

Fairchild F-27A San Ramon, California

The aircraft went into a steep dive and crashed while on a flight from Stockton to San Francisco, CA . The last message which had to be obtained through laboratory analysis was "Skipper's shot. We've been shot. I was trying to help." Francisco Gonzales, a passenger, who had told several people he was going to kill himself, shot both the pilot and co-pilot.

12/07/1987 Pacific Southwest Airlines
BAe-146-200a San Luis Obispo, Calif.

A fired USAir employee, David Burke, after leaving a goodbye message to friends, shot both pilots. The aircraft went into a steep dive and crashed.


30th Jul 2001, 01:29
For anyone who even thinks about bringing up Airport 1 to 99, don't even try. I had a relative on that PSA crash.

30th Jul 2001, 02:52
On a Los Angeles-London flight, there must have been another pilot crew member on duty. It was probably him that "took over". Doris Day is a little old to be flying big airplanes these days...

30th Jul 2001, 19:49

Are you for real? Talk about automation dependant.

Think about what is really important about landing and then tell me why, in an emergency situation, you couldn't land an aeroplane by yourself, wheels down, flaps set, airspeed, landing clearance, what else is REALLY important. This assumes that you don't have a few seconds to read the checklist yourself. Or maybe you prefer to depend on a passenger / flight attendant to read a checklist they have never seen before. Can you not recite your checklist challenge and response by heart? :eek:

If it is Cat 1 minimums or worse then things may get a little more tense, but still very doable. That is what alternates are for.

31st Jul 2001, 03:31
Yes, the plane can be set up to autoland itself on an ILS. The copilot would have to sit in the left seat to operate the tiller after rollout. There is nothing to it. The flap lever and gear lever can be reached from either seat. Even plenty of time to read and do the checklist while on A/P. And you can do all that and talk to ATC simultaneously with the push-to-talk switch in the yoke. You wouldn't need a "helper."

go with the flow
31st Jul 2001, 03:48
Interesting medical aspect to this. Heart attacks are a sudden blockage of one of the coronary arteries, usually starting in a trivial area (10-20% of vessel X-section) of "hardening of the arteries", correct term atherosclerosis. Only significant blockages (50-70%+) cause symptoms (angina), changes on stress testing, or are regarded as significant on angiography. So the stress test in the medicals really does very little to prevent this happening. :(

31st Jul 2001, 03:51
a 777 operating on this route would have three pilots on board. although the captain was disabled there was a proper cockpit crew compliment to handle the emergency. as far as how many people it takes to land an airplane. physically landing the airplane isn't the issue but rather the possibilities for something to go wrong during the crisis, prior to landing and particularely after the landing. that's aviating and distinguishes professional pilots from those are skilled solely in stick and rudder. i don't fly a 777 but the airplanes i am familiar with require certain ground equipment for autoland. the last time i was in las, a few months ago, i don't remember noting any such facilities.

31st Jul 2001, 05:51
HUH? "Certain ground equipment to autoland". Not the 757 I fly.

31st Jul 2001, 07:09
I think what sonoma was talking about is the CAT II and beyond Runway/ILS configuration which includes rollout alignment guidance.

But I have used Autoland on CAT I runways just to see the difference. The only difference was that on some CAT I certified runways the airplane would not track dead centerline, but the airplane stayed on the pavement nevertheless.


Runway Rumble
31st Jul 2001, 10:09
Well, who was "the pilot"? It has been assumed it was the Captain but no one has defined which crew member it was.
Which crew member; what age?

31st Jul 2001, 12:08
With so much talk of autoland and "shock horror" the Captain is gone I wonder why peole don't realise the First Officer/Co Pilot is perfectly able to land the aircraft himself with or without the help of anybody else! A jet can be flown single Pilot with no huge problems. [I am an F/O 747-400]

31st Jul 2001, 20:22
Capt is at home and doing fine. Doctors have established it was not a heart attack . Will do additional tests to figure out what. LA to LHR is crewed by a captain and two first officers. Both FO's are typed in the acft. Hardly an emergency, autoland indeed! It's hard enough getting a landing on international, I'm not giving it up to the computer.

31st Jul 2001, 21:01
An Autoland is my advise (if possible - ILS), on the longest suitable runway at the nearest suitable airport. Reading a checklist is easy. The PF (F/o or Capt) will apppreciate the help and the presence of someone in the flight deck. When was the last time (generealising) you landed an aircraft, 'alone'. It can be 'psychologically' demanding, what, with throwing in a little weather, traffic, the airport itself (terrain/stars/etc), experience, blah, blah. Don't underestimate or count out a cabin crew member. Some seniors have an idea about an autoland, in case both crew members are incapacitated. In our airline, pilots in general encourage questions about such matters, and crew are actually taught to help the 'lone ranger' in the flight deck. Regarding whether the seat shgould be occupied by a CC (incap pilot removed) is debatable. If the F/o is the PF, stay in the seat, don't taxi, the emergency, intentions declared earlier on will/should help emergency paramedics/doctor get the incap pilot off. More to that the F/o is qualified only for the right seat and the change in seat prior to landing will add to the unfamiliar/uncertainty/thought processes, etc. All this is IMHO anyway. The variables are many. All the best to anyone who encounters it, and congrats to all who have ahndled it. It shouldn't be a real big problem provided, you have an idea, preparation and calmness being exhuberated.

Ignition Override
1st Aug 2001, 12:14
TowerDog and AirBubba: Right-regarding the F-227, whose crew and passengers were murdered, along with the much later Bae-146's crew and passengers.

The daughter of the deceased F-227 Captain has been an airline pilot for years, and she is also a very accomplished aerobatic pilot, named Julie Clark. Hope she doesn't mind having her name listed here.

I met her once, and she is a really nice, attractive lady. Her father would have been quite proud of her.

[ 01 August 2001: Message edited by: Ignition Override ]

6th Aug 2001, 13:08
Hello all !


This type of thing happens all the time !
It's not always a hart attack, as seems to be the case here, but often a "passing out" of one of the 2 (or 3) crewmembers due to food intox, dehydration, low glucose level or simply...exhaustion !

All of these things are relatively known to long haul pilots, and a standard type rating item is to bring the plane down safely with a crewmember out !

The hard part of the exercise starts when you have exited the runway (which by the way you CAN do from the right seat of a 777, equiped with 2 tillers). You need to anticipate many things...

It seems whoever was on that 777 did an excellent job !!!

Congrats !


6th Aug 2001, 14:05
appreciate good job with 777 landing but we should remember that this is not so big deal actually. just remember the roots why all airliners are minimum two-pilots certified (cessna grand caravan is not an airliner).