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Fri, Jun 19, 2009

Pilot Dies During Transatlantic Flight

Co-Pilots Safely Land Aircraft

A 60-year-old pilot suffered an apparent heart attack on a transatlantic flight from Brussels to Newark, but the co-pilot and relief pilot landed the airplane safely at its destination.

The Associated Press is reporting that the crew o fFlight 61 asked for the assistance of a doctor, and several passengers responded to the call. Dr. Julien Struyven, a cardiologist from Brussels, said the pilot had died of a heart attack. He told the AP he tried to revive the pilot using a defibrillator, but was unable to do so.

Continental Airlines spokeswoman Arlene Salak said the FAA was notified about 1030 Thursday that the Boeing 777 was being piloted by the two co-pilots on board. The flight was given priority handling when it arrived at Newark.  Emergency crews were sent to meet the plane as a precaution, which caused concern among some of the passengers, who had not been informed about the situation.

Tom Donaldson, a former Union head for Continental, told the news service that a relief pilot flies long transatlantic routes with the crew in case one of the pilots becomes fatigued. While no specific training is provided in the event one of the regular crew becomes incapacitated, he said any one of the pilots on board is capable of flying the airplane.

FMI: www.continental.com

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