American Airlines Flight 550
A US Airways A320, similar to the one in the incident
|Date||5 October 2015|
|Summary||Emergency landing following a medical emergency of Pilot|
|Aircraft type||Airbus A320|
|Operator||American Airlines [note 1]|
|Flight origin||Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, Arizona|
|Stopover||Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Syracuse, New York|
|Destination||Logan International Airport, Boston, Massachusetts|
American Airlines Flight 550 was a flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona heading to Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts that diverted to Syracuse Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, New York when the captain of the aircraft lost consciousness and died after an apparent illness mid-flight.
The American Airlines red-eye flight departed from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport around 12:08AM (MST) and was scheduled to reach their final destination at Logan International Airport. Four hours into the flight, the captain, Michael Johnston, became unresponsive to crew members. The first officer of the flight contacted the Syracuse air traffic control tower announcing a "medical emergency, captain is incapacitated, request handling for runway," as one of the flight attendants tried to revive the captain. Passengers were told by a flight attendant that the captain became ill after turbulence and they would make an emergency landing. The American Airlines flight was safely diverted to Syracuse Hancock International Airport shortly after 7:10AM (EST) where emergency respondents were met at the gate, though not rushing to the scene. Four to five hours after landing in Syracuse, New York, a replacement crew was summoned by American Airlines to continue the flight to Boston which landed at 12:30PM (EST). Passengers were later informed by the new crew that the pilot had passed away.
Cause of death
The day after the initial incident, it was confirmed that Micheal Johnston had died from natural disease. The wife of the captain later commented that the cause of death was likely related to a double bypass surgery her husband received in 2006.
- Aircraft was in the livery of US Airways but belongs to American after the merger between the two airlines in 2013. Hence, American is the operator.
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