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Friday 2 June 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# Investigation
Ryanair co-pilot praised for safe emergency landing after captain fell ill
At one stage, the commander of the craft fell unconscious.

A PILOT WAS praised after carrying out a safe emergency landing when his commander became ill and briefly lost consciousness during the flight.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit Ireland (AAIU) report into the emergency landing of a Boeing 737-8AS near Lisbon, Portugal on 9 October 2013 at 8.16am said that the co-pilot took appropriate actions to ensure the landing went safely.

There were six crew and 167 passengers on board the flight, and the male captain was 35 years old and had 6,300 hours of flying experience.

What happened on board

The plane departed from East Midlands Airport on a scheduled passenger service to Tenerife. But as the flight progressed, the Commander noticed that he had a slight headache. He had been dealing with a light cold six to seven days previously.

The flight was routine until the aircraft approached the northern coast of Spain, which is when the Commander suddenly felt unwell. He told the co-pilot, and took a meal break, but his condition deteriorated and he briefly lost consciousness.

The co-pilot took command of the flight, and the senior cabin crew member was informed about the situation. The passenger seat-belt sign was switched on to ensure that the cabin could be secured quickly.

The co-pilot suggested an immediate diversion to Faro Airport and the Commander agreed.

After checking the weather conditions were suitable, the co-pilot declared an emergency with Lisbon Air Traffic Control Centre (ATCC) and commenced a diversion. The flight landed without further incident. Once on the ground, the Commander was met and assessed by medical personnel.

The co-pilot “completed the descent, approach and landing without incident”, said the report. The commander received medical attention once they arrived, and returned to the UK the same day.

The co-pilot was 26, with an Irish-issued pilot’s licence, and had a total of 1,502 hours flying time.

“Sudden incapacitation of a flight crew member is a rare, but serious event, which requires an immediate and effective response by the remaining crew member(s),” said the AAIU.

It said that the co-pilot “took appropriate and considered actions to ensure the safe conclusion of the flight” after assuming the command role.

An event involving incapacitation of a commander “places great demands on the remaining flight crew”, said the AAIU.

“In this case, the emergency was well handled to a safe conclusion.”

Read: Icy weather likely “triggering factor” of AirAsia crash>

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