A Virgin Australia flight from Adelaide to Perth was forced to make an emergency landing after the First Officer was taken ill just 30 minutes after departure.
The incident occurred on 3rd March and resulted in the Airbus A320 being forced to return to Adelaide, where emergency responders were waiting to transport the sick pilot to the hospital.
Very few details about the incident have so far been made public by Australia’s aviation accident investigation bureau, but the airline has denied an initial account reported by the AVHerald that the First Officer became incapacitated after suffering a heart attack.
The First Officer was taken to the hospital for observation but was later reported to be okay. A spokesperson for the airline said passengers were accommodated on the next available flights.
Australian aviation regulators require pilots to undergo a yearly medical examination, although an ECG is only necessary for the initial medical examination and then at ages 25, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40.
After the age of 40, an ECG is required annually. The medical process also includes a calculation of cardiovascular risk.
Last November, the Captain of an American Eagle flight died from a suspected heart attack shortly after takeoff from Chicago O’Hare, while the Captain of a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight became incapacitated and later died last August during a flight from Muscat to Dhaka.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.