American Airlines Pilot Dies Mid-Flight Heading to Phoenix

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – An American Airlines pilot got sick during a flight from Phoenix to Boston and later died, and the co-pilot ended up landing the plane safely in Syracuse, N.Y.

The cause of the pilot’s death has not been released by officials.

CBS affiliate WTVH in Syracuse reports Flight 550 left Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport last night and was scheduled to land in Boston at 8 a.m. The plane ended up landing safely in Syracuse at 7:10 a.m.

The pilot’s name has not been released. Officials are working to notify next of kin.

In audio from the cockpit obtained by CBS Boston by Live ATC.net, which provides live air traffic control broadcasts, the co-pilot is heard calling the control tower, “A medical emergency. Captain is incapacitated, request handling for runway one zero landing.”

The flight, an A320 also known as US Airways Flight 550, ended up landing at Logan Airport at 12:30 p.m. local time. There were 147 passengers on board.

Describing the incident to reporters in Boston, passengers said there was a quick descent, they felt some turbulence and then a member of the flight crew announced that the captain wasn’t feeling well.

The passengers described a hard landing in Syracuse and did not know at the time why they were there.

They said EMTs did not rush onto the plane, leading them to believe the pilot had died.

They did not know if he passed away in-flight or after landing.

The passengers praised the co-pilot who they said appeared calm during the entire incident.

“This is a terribly sad event and American Airlines is focused on caring for the pilot’s family at this time, as well as the American Airlines staff and passengers on board the flight,” the airline spokeswoman said.

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