What if airline captain dies during a flight?
Just curious: Hypothetical scenario: A 757 commercial flight from JFK - LAX....Somewhere over St. Louis the captain drops dead of a heart attack. My question: Is there an FAA mandate that the co-pilot must land at the nearest airport....or could he/she continue flying to LAX (which is a good 3 hours away)?
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i'm sure there would be an imediate landing at the nearest port. while the flight crew attend to the captain and try to keep him under control/alive the co-pilot would send out a distress signal/call to find out the nearest area he could land.
Hey there,immediate landing is ruqired.
The co-pilot would fly to the nearest airport where he can attain landing clearance. If the pilot just had a heart attack, even if he was dead, at least some effort would be made to see if he had any chance of survival. You don't just keep flying to your destination.
If the captain dies, the first officer (co-pilot) is now the pilot-in-command - Thereafter - the aviation logic is as follows - If he is not familiar with these airports nearby, he is better to land at LAX - There is NO set rule for that decision - Many considerations - besides familiarity, weather, aircraft weight etc. - And... I say again, now the pilot-in-command is the first officer - All first officers are fully trained (and able) to fly the aircraft alone -
I would hope a landing would be mandatory. But i wouldn't plan on a pilot having a heart attack, they usually are screened fairly well for what they undertake.
There are two pilots on every flight, and both of them are fully qualified to fly the aircraft on their own. If one pilot dies, the other can fly the aircraft in complete safety. However, incapacitation of one pilot is normally considered an emergency, just to be on the safe side, and so the procedure would be to land as soon as practical. On a flight midway between JFK and LAX, the pilot would select a large, suitable airport near the current position of the flight, and divert to that airport. Declaring an emergency is at the discretion of the pilot in command, which would be the copilot once the captain became incapacitated. However, airline policies dictate certain conditions under which an emergency must be declared, and the FAA requires that airplanes designed for two pilots must be flown by two pilots, so having only one pilot implicitly mandates an emergency, even though the regulations don't specifically say this. There's no rush in a situation like this. Technically, the copilot could fly the aircraft to its original destination without any problems. However, in practice, a diversion would probably be made unless the flight were already quite close to its destination. The main concern is actually to get medical help for the captain, if he isn't actually dead. If he's dead, there's no rush. The airplane isn't going to dive for the next available airport or anything like that. A good choice would be a nearby airport with the infrastructure necessary to handle large commercial flights. For example, if the flight is over Aspen, it will probably divert to Denver, not Aspen, Denver being the closest large airport.
I would have to say the co-pilot will take over. Depending on how comfortable he/she is with flying the plane alone. They would radio control tower and see what is the best plan of action to take.
No regulation that the pilot must land the nearest airport. --Not even the nearest suitable airport. --Not even land as soon as is practical. The pilot could, should, and would continue flying the two-and-a-half hours to LAX.
The first officer assumes the role of Captain and lands at the nearest suitable airport. Would you want to continue flying for 3 hours while a dead person is sitting next to you? Let's not forget that the First Officer might not know if the Captain is really dead or not. Best to declare an emergency and have medical personel waiting for you at the gate of the closest airport.
The F/O will usually say: "Git that SOB outta MY seat!"
there have been cases w/ private aircraft where that actually has happened but that's one more reason why all commercial flights have 2 pilots