A jetliner pilot suffered a fatal heart attack at the controls during a red-eye flight from Phoenix to Boston on Monday, forcing the co-pilot to make an emergency landing, officials said.
The first officer of American Airlines Flight 550 said over the radio, “Medical emergency. Pilot is incapacitated,” according to an online audio of the communication with air-traffic control.
The co-pilot landed the Airbus A320 with 147 passengers and five crew members safely in Syracuse, and could be heard saying on the audio,
“Do you have a way to get into the cockpit expeditiously?” according to WNYW/Channel 5 news.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft touched down at 7:10 a.m. after the crew had reported the medical emergency.
An airline spokeswoman declined to identify the pilot, whose body was taken to a local hospital. She could not say whether the pilot died before or after the jet landed.
A new flight crew took the plane the rest of the way to Boston.
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