American Airlines Pilot Dies During Flight, Plane Forced To Make Emergency Landing

An American Airlines flight from Phoenix to Boston was plunged into chaos on Monday morning when its pilot suddenly fell ill and died during the journey.

The plane was then diverted to Syracuse, New York. Its co-pilot was able to safely land the plane just after 7 a.m.

An American Airlines official has confirmed, via CNN, that the pilot of one of their passenger jets did die during the flight. They refused to confirm the official cause of death for the pilot. However, they instead revealed that it was the result of an “illness.”

The American Airlines spokesperson added, “Our thoughts are definitely with the crew member’s friends and family. That is our primary concern at this point, making sure they are taken care of.” The spokesperson refused to reveal if the pilot had died during the flight or when it landed, while they’ve still yet to confirm his name. However, the fact that EMTs didn’t rush onto the plane suggests that the pilot died during the flight.

<> on September 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.

The passenger plane involved in this near-miss was an A320, while it had 147 passengers and five crew members on board, and had originally taken off at 12:08 a.m. Mountain Standard Time.

The flight itself was a red-eye journey from Phoenix to Boston, while USA Today has reported that the incident took place around four hours into Flight 550.

A conversation between Flight 550’s first officer and air traffic control has also emerged, during which you can hear the first officer first call in the emergency before then revealing that the captain had become “incapacitated.”

A transcript has been uploaded to, and it features the co-pilot explaining, “Syracuse, American 550, medical emergency, captain is incapacitated, request handling for runway 108.”

It’s also been reported that one of the flight attendants on board the plane was a nurse. She then tried valiantly to save the life of the captain. However, she was unsuccessful. The first officer who sat next to the captain as he slowly succumbed and then called in the tragedy was deadheaded home, which means that he was flown as a passenger, not a working member of American Airlines.

A brand new crew was then sent from Philadelphia to Syracuse, and they completed the journey, while passengers safely landed in Boston just a few hours later.

Obviously, this unsettling news could worry poor fliers quite drastically. However, both the captain and first officer have the ability to fly the airliner by themselves, and are well-equipped to land the plane in such an emergency. This is why Federal Aviation Administration insists that two crew members are in the cockpit at all times.

<> on April 16, 2013 in Miami, Florida.

Just after the incident unfolded, one of the passengers on board the aircraft took to her Twitter account to provide an update on the incident.

Another passenger has since come out and insisted that the American Airlines crew handled the entire situation completely “professionally.” The flight crew made the announcement just before the plane began its premature descent that there would be an emergency landing because the captain was unwell.

According to CBS Local, one passenger insisted that the landing was a little rough, as there was a very quick descent and that there was some turbulence, while the landing in Syracuse was described as hard.

[Image via Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images & Joe Raedle / Getty Images & Joe Raedle / Getty Images]