A Boston-bound flight from Phoenix made an emergency landing in Syracuse, N.Y., early Monday morning after the captain of the American Airlines crew died, according to airline officials.
American Airlines flight 550, an Airbus A320 aircraft, landed safely at Syracuse Hancock International Airport at 7:10 a.m. The first officer landed the plane, and authorities declared the pilot dead at the airport.
The flight had departed from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and was originally destined for Logan International Airport, according to the FAA.
After American Airlines replaced the crew of the plane, the flight continued onto Boston, landing here around 12:30 p.m. American Airlines has not identified the pilot nor disclosed how he died.
A recording posted on the website LiveATC.net shows that the crew of the plane contacted air traffic control in Syracuse to report a medical emergency. “Captain is incapacitated,” a crew member reported.
Another transmission said: “one of the pilots is unresponsive.” A crew member also asked about the best way for medical personnel to get into the plane quickly upon landing.
American Airlines said there were 147 passengers on the flight, which had a crew of five — two pilots and three flight attendants.
“We’re incredibly saddened by this event, and we’re focused on caring for our pilot’s family and our colleagues,” airline spokeswoman Michelle Mohr, said in an interview.
Louise Anderson, 31, who was on the flight, said crewmembers told passengers that they needed to make an emergency stop because the pilot was “ill.”
It wasn’t until later, when Anderson and others boarded a plane to head back to Boston, that they learned the pilot had passed away.
Anderson said that their new pilot informed passengers over the loudspeakers.
“I think everybody was a little bit freaked at first, but also any annoyances were gone at that point, because we were thinking about the poor pilot’s family and the crew involved,” Anderson said. “I guess for me it makes me really grateful that the backup pilot was there, and it didn’t cause any pandemonium. Everyone handled it so professionally.”