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American Airlines Pilot Dies in Flight BOS-PHX

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American Airlines Pilot Dies in Flight BOS-PHX

Old 5th Oct 2015, 17:57
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American Airlines Pilot Dies in Flight BOS-PHX

Doesn't happen often but when it does, it usually makes the news...

American Airlines Pilot Dies Mid-Flight

By Matt Hosford
and Meghan Keneally

Oct 5, 2015, 12:58 PM ET

An American Airlines pilot died mid-flight after experiencing a medical emergency this morning, airline officials said.

The pilot, whose name and age were not released, was flying from Boston to Phoenix when the plane was forced to land in Syracuse, New York.

There were 147 passengers on board with five crew members, including the pilot. An airline spokesperson confirmed the incident to ABC News and said it is "incredibly saddened" and is focusing on taking care of the family members and crew involved.

Recordings of the crew's communications with air traffic control, obtained via liveatc.net, show that someone on the plane called in saying that the "captain is incapacitated" and at another point, saying "pilot is unresponsive, not breathing."

The nature of the pilot's sudden illness has not been disclosed.

An airline spokesperson said that one of the flight attendants is also a nurse and was trying to assist the ill pilot.

Airlines in the United States are required to have two pilots on board, and that was true in this case as well.
American Airlines Pilot Dies Mid-Flight - ABC News
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Old 5th Oct 2015, 18:26
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The pilot, whose name and age were not released, was flying from Boston to Phoenix when the plane was forced to land in Syracuse, New York.
I've got no room to talk after some of my mix-ups here but it seems that the flight was the redeye from PHX to BOS:

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/...659Z/KPHX/KSYR
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Old 5th Oct 2015, 19:53
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Phoenix to Boston. New crew boarded at Syracuse to continue the flight to Boston.

Pilot dies on Boston-bound American Airlines flight - The Boston Globe

“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 said. “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.”
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 03:33
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Very sad.

From AA CEO Doug Parker:

October 5, 2015

Dear Fellow Team Members,

Today we received the extremely sad news that Phoenix-based Captain Michael Johnston passed away while at work. Capt. Johnston was piloting Flight #550 from Phoenix to Boston early Monday morning when he fell ill. Capt. Johnston was 57 years old.

A graduate of Brigham Young University, Capt. Johnston began his career with America West Airlines in January 1990 as a first officer on the Dash-8. He later flew the 737 and the 757, before being upgraded to captain on the A320.

I want to take a moment to thank Mike’s crewmembers on Flight #550. They took extraordinary care of Mike, each other and our customers. We couldn’t be more proud of the teamwork this crew showed during an extremely difficult time. Our airport teams in Syracuse and Boston were also instrumental in assisting our customers, and their handling is also greatly appreciated.

All of us at American extend our condolences to Mike’s wife, Betty Jean, and to his entire family. They have lost a husband and father, and many of you have lost a personal friend. Taking care of Mike’s family is our focus now, and I know you’ll join me in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 08:14
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A terribly sad moment, of course, and very upsetting for the family, crew, colleagues and passengers, so I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm making an inappropriately trivial point - but I couldn't let that passenger's comment go about being "really grateful that the backup pilot was there".

Not blaming the passenger, but it says a lot about how the cockpit crew are perceived by the general public: "the pilot" does everything while the "co-pilot" sits there like a spare.

But back to the current situation, I'm shocked to read how young the captain was. A very sad day.

Edit: What a very nice, heartfelt email from the CEO.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 09:48
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First, condolences to the family, loved ones and colleagues of the pilot who expired during flight.

This post is about the media.
Listening to multiple media sources the reports generally makes statements such as "passengers panic in the air", "flight in serious risk", etc.
At times I will defend the media simply because certain knowledge cannot be expected, but how they come up with certain stories is mindboggling.
The passengers never knew about the fate in the cockpit, only that the pilot was not feeling well. I have been on a flight where there was an unscheduled landing with the same type of announcement (saw the pilot ultimately escorted out by EMT) and certainly no panic at that time.
About serious risk, give me a break. Sure it increases the workload of the other pilot, but nothing that he or she cannot handle.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 09:48
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According to the Boston Globe, cause of death was a "heart attack". The flight attendant who attempted to resuscitate the pilot was formerly an emergency room nurse. There was a physician seated in row 1F, but there apparently was no request for help.

Pilot dies on Boston-bound American Airlines flight - The Boston Globe

Audio here
Audio: Medical emergency on Boston-bound flight - The Boston Globe
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 09:56
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Terribly sad news. Condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Do AA short haul have defibrillators on board?
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 11:32
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Apparently a first officer had to do a landing
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 11:45
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Apparently a first officer had to do a landing
... putting the lives of passengers and millions of people under the flight-path at risk.

A more balanced view from the BBC, which actually manages to use some of the correct terminology for the pilots. And even mentions the regular health-checks that the captain would have had to go through over the last nine years.

American Airlines pilot died mid-flight from 'heart attack' - BBC News
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 14:00
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Back in 1979 a Braniff B-747 PIC had a heart attack and died. Crew decided there was no need to divert to the nearest airfield (LAX) and cause problems for the 331 passengers, so they flew on to the destination (DFW). The pilot's wife was one of the cabin crew.

Article here:

https://news.google.com/newspapers?n...,2362847&hl=en

https://news.google.com/newspapers?n...,2362847&hl=en
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 14:16
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What I read, FWIWs, is that the autopsy determined a fatal heart attack.

Allegedly, his widow told some newsie that he had a double by-pass operation in 2006.

If all of this is true, I suspect the FAA's medical recertification process will be subject to review, at least for first class medical certificates.

I recall we had a captain about his age die of a heart attack on a layover in Hong Kong. But, it did not happen in-flight and he did not have a history of a by-pass.

We had another who was medically disqualified when young for an abnormal heart condition. ALPA helped him fight it and he got his medical back after a year or two. Many years later he was in his late 50s and had just commuted home to California from JFK after operating a flight from Tel Aviv. He was resting in the living room while his wife prepared dinner. He slumped over deceased from the condition that was detected many years before.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 15:05
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I hate to be the heartless bastard here, but if the deceased is pronounced by a doctor or nurse, why would you divert?
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 15:46
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Single pilot on a two-crew operation? Would you not divert if you were down to a single hydraulic system, or a single engine, or a single AC generator? Plus for those of us who aren't heartless bastards, the thought of flying for hours onward knowing your colleague is dead might be a little unwelcome.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 15:50
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standbykid:

I hate to be the heartless bastard here, but if the deceased is pronounced by a doctor or nurse, why would you divert?
Incapacitation of one pilot on a two-person crew mandates diversion to the nearest suitable. It becomes an emergency at that point.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 17:48
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I hate to be the heartless bastard here, but if the deceased is pronounced by a doctor or nurse, why would you divert?
A side issue is that, under the guidance provided in the book by most U.S. airlines, you try to avoid having someone declared dead in flight for legal reasons.

If the person is declared dead on the ground, place and time of death is better defined for insurance and estate purposes. In 1976 Howard Hughes passed away in a Lear flying from Acapulco to Houston. Estate lawyers argued for years over when he died and whether it was over Mexico or the U.S.

The remaining pilot on AA 550 reported to ATC that his colleague was unresponsive and not breathing. The EMS communications on the Onondaga County frequency were routine and professional, another day at the office.

AA 550 landed on runway 28. Originally the medics were going to meet the aircraft on the taxiway but it was realized that they did not have a way to easily enter the aircraft without stairs. So, AA 550 taxied to Gate 6.

I know American was always considered a 'captain's airline' and the FO was not allowed to taxi. Years ago AA had the right seat steering tillers removed from their A306's even though it was standard equipment.

Do AA 320's all have ground steering on the right side? Or do some have it and some don't due to the mergers? I'd never seen an A320 with dual-bogie main gear until someone pointed out an ex-Indian Airlines plane at the gate in Asia.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 20:14
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'bubba:

I know American was always considered a 'captain's airline' and the FO was not allowed to taxi. Years ago AA had the right seat steering tillers removed from their A306's even though it was standard equipment.
Perhaps he moved to the left seat.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 21:19
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Perhaps he moved to the left seat.
Great minds think alike.

I also thought perhaps that was the case but having swapped seats a few times over my uh, 'career', I don't think I would like to land solo from the other side unless it was something I had practiced. I get enough excitement watching check airmen try it after flying a desk or simulator all month.

Years ago I was one of the FO's on an augmented crew on a crossing in an ETOPS twin and the captain had a painful kidney stone attack. We were with a legacy airline where the copilots taxied the plane on their leg and both sides had tillers.

I was the relief pilot and with that company, the junior guy (some outfits have done the pecking order differently with typed and untyped FO's, or captains, for the bunkie). We decided that if the captain was unable to be in the seat for landing, I would be in the left seat and the other FO would land from the right seat since that was his normal viewpoint.

As it turned out, captain's pain subsided in time for him to sit in the left seat for the other FO's landing.

I was with an overseas outfit once where you put on your shoulder harness and locked it while the other pilot was out of the cockpit in case you had a medical emergency. It would keep you from slumping over the controls. Oddly, you didn't have to put on the O2 mask above FL 350 when flying solo.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 21:26
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Exclamation

I know American was always considered a 'captain's airline' and the FO was not allowed to taxi. Years ago AA had the right seat steering tillers removed from their A306's even though it was standard equipment.

Do AA 320's all have ground steering on the right side? Or do some have it and some don't due to the mergers?
This was an ex-AWA A320 (aircraft 678) which has like all the LUS Airbuses tillers on both sides. F/O's are not permitted to taxi, although I was told that when the Airbuses first hit the property at pre-merger AW/US the F/O's were permitted to taxi (the tillers on the right side are not deactivated).

I believe AA's Airbuses have the tiller on the right installed as well. The FM prohibits the F/O taxiing at the "New American". Clearly, the F/O used his emergency authority to taxi the 320 to the gate in SYR.

I would like to know if you can use the defibrillator on a sitting person, or if that person has to lie flat.

There was a physician seated in row 1F, but there apparently was no request for help.
I think the TSA, FAA and the press would have had a "field day" if that person had been permitted onto the flight deck!

I don't think that the FAA will make any dramatic changes to their aeromedical requirements, health checks etc. since it'll probably ground more pilots and add to the pilot shortage. There are pesky rumors that the FAA age 65 limitation will be removed soon.
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Old 6th Oct 2015, 23:31
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"I hate to be the heartless bastard here, but if the deceased is pronounced by a doctor or nurse, why would you divert? "


That question is not worthy of an answer. A heartless bastard you are.
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