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Off-Duty Pilot Comes to the Rescue After Captain is Incapacitated On International Westjet Flight

Off-Duty Pilot Comes to the Rescue After Captain is Incapacitated On International Westjet Flight

An off-duty pilot who was deadheading on a Westjet flight from Calgary to Atlanta had to come to the rescue when the operating Captain became incapacitated in a medical emergency. The off-duty pilot took over in the Captain’s seat and helped divert the aircraft by the Calgary so that the Captain could be taken to the hospital.

According to the Aviation Herald, the Boeing 737MAX operated flight with 99 passengers onboard had only shortly departed Calgary when the operating Captain became incapacitated.

Westjet confirmed that the pilot suffered a medical emergency but did not elaborate further. The First Officer started to divert back to Calgary while flight attendants dragged the Captain out of his seat and into the passenger cabin in order to render First Aid.

Sources claim passengers quickly became aware that something was wrong because the flight attendants “looked worried” and started to “run up and down the aisle”. At one point, an automated external defibrillator (AED) was taken into the flight deck.

A doctor and two nurses who happened to be travelling as passengers on the flight assisted flight attendants and were seen “feverishly” working on the pilot who appeared to be talkative.

A deadheading pilot stepped into the breach and assisted the First Officer in successfully returning the aircraft to Calgary around 35 minutes later. Sources claim the off-duty pilot is rated to fly the 787 Dreamliner and not the 737MAX but was still able to assist the First Officer.

Westjet declined to provide further details.

Earlier this year it was revealed that aircraft manufacturer Airbus was working on a system for single-pilot operations during the cruise phase of flights for long-haul flights where three or even more pilots would normally be required.

The project would allow one pilot to remain on the flight deck while the other took a break in a crew bunk rest facility. Airbus has been working on a system to allow the operating pilot to relieve themself in the crew seat during periods when they can’t leave the flight deck because the other pilot is on break.

The idea is highly controversial but doesn’t go so far as to try and do away with at least two pilots for safety-critical phases of flight like takeoff and landing.

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