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Pilot Dies On International Flight

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, June 18, 2009 2:21 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Airline Accidents, Mass Transit, Pilot Error, Pilot Death, Heart Attack

The pilot died aboard a Continental flight from Brussels to Newark, but the First Officers took over. No one knew what happened.  

Fast Thinking Co-Pilots Land Safely



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ Continental Boeing 777/ author: Arpingstone 


It was an uneventful flight, at first.

Continental Flight 61 was en route from Brussels, Belgium, to Newark, New Jersey when the pilot died mid-flight today.

Two fast thinking first officers safely landed at Newark International Airport around noon with all 247 passengers aboard safe and largely unaware of what had happened.  The airline says the co-pilots were qualified to fly the Boeing 777. 

Mid-flight, an announcement asked if there were any doctors aboard.   Passengers became aware of the situation when fire trucks and emergency vehicles greet the plane on the runway when it landed. 

Continental Airlines released a statement:  "The crew on this flight included an additional relief pilot who took the place of the deceased pilot," Continental said. "The flight continued safely with two pilots at the controls

Just to be sure, the Port Authority cleared the runway of other flight as the plane landed.

The unidentified pilot was reported to be 60 years old. Continental says he had 32 years with the airline and died of natural causes.

This is not the first time a pilot has died mid-flight.  In 2007, a Continental pilot died on a flight from Houston to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The co-pilot took the controls and landed safely.

In April, a quick thinking passenger was able to land a twin-engine plane at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers on Sunday, after the pilot passed out and died from a heart attack mid-flight.

Six people were aboard the King Air turboprop that was flying from Marco Island to Mississippi.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials, the aircraft was on autopilot and still climbing when the pilot died.

The passenger who made the emergency landing is a licensed pilot with 20 years of flight experience, although he is not certified to fly the Air King, a large luxury aircraft.  An air traffic controller called a friend who was able to instruct him. He landed the plane safely in about 15 to 20 minutes.   #

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