An off-duty pilot who was a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight stepped in to assist the flight crew after one of the pilots on duty suffered a mid-flight medical emergency.
The incident began not long after Flight 6013 to Columbus, Ohio, departed Las Vegas on Wednesday, Southwest Airlines said. One of the pilots required medical attention, the airline said.
“A licensed pilot from another airline, who was on board, entered the cockpit and assisted with radio communications while our Southwest Pilot operated the aircraft,” said airline spokesman Chris Perry. “We really appreciate their support and help.”
A nurse also on board helped care for the pilot, the airline said, without releasing further details about the pilot’s condition.
“The captain became incapacitated while en route. He’s in the back of the plane with a flight attendant right now, but we need to get him on an ambulance immediately,” a flight crew member says in air traffic control audio from LiveATC.net.
“It is standard procedure for our flight crews to request assistance from traveling medical personnel during in-flight medical events involving customers. One of our employees happened to be involved in this situation,” the airline said.
Data from flight tracking site FlightAware.com shows that the plane was airborne for approximately 1 hour and 17 minutes. After returning safely to Las Vegas, a backup crew boarded and the flight continued to Columbus as scheduled, the airline said.
The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident, it said.
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