United Airlines Pilot Becomes Unconscious During Flight

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An United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner enroute from Houston Bush Intercontinental to San Francisco diverted to Albuquerque, after the pilot became unconscious during the flight. This comes after an earlier incident this week where a American Airlines Pilot Dies During Flight from PHX-BOS.


Per USA Today, A United Airlines flight diverted to New Mexico after one of the pilots became ill and passed out Tuesday morning. The incident comes just one day after an American Airlines flight diverted after the captain became ill and died on an overnight “red eye” flight operated by that carrier.

In Tuesday morning’s incident, United Airlines Flight 1614 departed Houston Bush Intercontinental for San Francisco at 7:40 a.m. CT (8:40 a.m. ET). Just about an hour into the flight, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner diverted and landed in Albuquerque at 8:18 a.m. MT (10:18 a.m. ET), according to data from flight-tracking site FlightAware.com.

Albuquerque airport spokesman Dan Jiron told The Associated Press air traffic controllers were told that the flight’s first officer, who is second in command, had a medical episode. The plane landed without incident, Jiron said.

Jiron said the pilot regained consciousness and walked off the plane under his own power in Albuquerque, where he was taken to a hospital. It was not immediately clear what caused the pilot to lose consciousness.

“United flight 1614, en route from Houston to San Francisco, diverted to Albuquerque this morning when a crew member became ill,” the airline said.” The crew followed procedures and the aircraft landed safely. We are working to get our customers to their final destinations.”

FlightAware showed that Flight 1614 had already resumed its journey to San Francisco, departing Albuquerque at around 12:07 p.m. MT (2:07 p.m. ET).

While the incapacitation of a pilot during flight could raise concern among uneasy fliers, the captain and first officer are each capable of flying commercial airliners alone. The Federal Aviation Administration requires two crew members in the cockpit at all times for just such an emergency.

Bottom Line

Our prayers are with the pilot and the family right now, and thankfully for the co-pilot who was safely able to land the aircraft.

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