Unconscious Pilot Collapses in Aisle in Front of Passengers; Causes Co-Pilot to Divert Flight
A Boeing 737-800 aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines carrying 116 passengers and five flight crew members was diverted to Portland International Airport earlier this week on its way from Los Angeles to Seattle because a pilot lost consciousness during the flight supposedly as a result of an unspecified medical condition.
The pilot reportedly collapsed in the aisle in front of passengers after opening the door to the cockpit during the flight, causing the co-pilot to take control of the aircraft and conduct an emergency landing in Portland while a passenger who is a doctor tended to the pilot. Alaska Airlines flight 473 landed safely with emergency vehicles awaiting nearby. No fatalities or injuries were reported, and the flight resumed to its destination of Seattle on the same aircraft but with a different flight crew which was flown in to take over the aircraft.
After being treated at a hospital and released, the pilot is reportedly suspected to have suffered from either a flu virus or food poisoning, causing the veteran pilot of 28 years — but who has worked for Alaska Airlines for 11 years — to become dizzy before fainting.
The following video news report is courtesy of NBC News:
FlyerTalk members are thankful that everyone — including the pilot — is all right, but it is important to note that co-pilots endure rigorous and extensive training and flight hours to add redundancy to the flight crew in the unlikely event of an emergency.
CORRECTION: This article uses the terms “pilot” and “co-pilot.” The correct terms are “captain” and “first officer.”