Southwest Passenger Assists Plane Landing After Pilot Has Medical Emergency Mid-Flight

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Erinn Broadus Investigative Reporter
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A Southwest plane had to be taken over by a pilot who happened to be riding as a passenger after the pilot had a medical emergency and became incapacitated, CNN reports.

Flight 6013 was headed to Columbus, Ohio, from Las Vegas and was in the air for slightly over an hour when the pilot had a medical emergency, according to CNN. Thankfully, a pilot from a different airline was on board and helped assist in landing the plane by managing radio communication with air traffic controllers while the co-pilot returned the plane to Las Vegas.

“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,” airline spokesperson Chris Perry said.

A nurse who was also on the plane helped care for the pilot while the plane was being rerouted back to Las Vegas. “It’s standard procedure for our Flight Crews to request assistance from traveling medical personnel during in-flight medical events involving Customers, this situation just so happened to involve one of our employees,” said Southwest to CNN. (RELATED: United Airlines Flight Plunged To 775 Feet Above Ocean Soon After Takeoff, Data Reveals)

“All Southwest Pilots are trained to fly aircraft as single Pilots for events such as this which is why we always have a Captain and a First Officer in the Flight Deck,” said Southwest representative Chris Perry to DCNF.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a statement on Wednesday regarding the need for “continued vigilance and attention to mitigation of safety risks.” The statement explains that there have been six serious incidents on runways just this year, including an event at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport where a departing aircraft and a landing aircraft came within 100 feet of each other.

The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident, public affairs specialist Rick Breitenfeldt told DCNF.

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