The off-duty pilot from another airline jumped in to help with radio communication, while the other Southwest pilot took over the controls.
An off-duty pilot who was a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight stepped in to help land a plane after one of the on-duty pilots had a medical emergency mid-flight.
According to CNN, the incident took place on Wednesday aboard Flight 6013 which took off from Las Vegas and was heading towards Columbus, Ohio. The airline stated that the plane was forced to return to Vegas as urgent medical attention was required for the original pilot, who was “incapacitated”.
Luckily, a passenger was well-placed to help the crew. As per the outlet, the off-duty pilot from another airline jumped in to help with radio communication, while the other Southwest pilot took over the controls.
“A credentialed Pilot from another airline, who was on board, entered the Flight Deck and assisted with radio communication while our Southwest Pilot flew the aircraft,” Southwest Airlines spokesperson Chris Perry said, as per CNN.
According to a radio traffic archive obtained by LiveATC, a member of the flight crew said that the captain had started to feel stomach pain and then “fainted or became incapacitated” around five minutes later. “He’s in the back of the aircraft right now with a flight attendant. But we need to get him on an ambulance immediately,” the person added.
Southwest Airlines thanked the off-duty pilot who stepped up to help. “We greatly appreciated the support and assistance,” Mr Perry said. “We commend the crew for their professionalism and appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding regarding the situation,” the spokesperson added.
As per data from the flight tracking site FlightAware.com, the plane was in the air for about 1 hour and 17 minutes. It returned to Las Vegas and landed “without incident”, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said. It also added that after landing safely, an alternate crew took over and operated the flight to Columbus.
The condition of the pilot who required medical attention has not been made clear. The FAA stated that it will be investigating the incident.