Sky Talk

United co-pilot passes out, diverting flight to New Mexico

Wire service reports

A United Airlines flight from Houston to San Francisco was diverted to Albuquerque, New Mexico, after the co-pilot passed out Tuesday.
A United Airlines flight from Houston to San Francisco was diverted to Albuquerque, New Mexico, after the co-pilot passed out Tuesday. AP

A United Airlines flight carrying nearly 200 people from Houston to San Francisco had to divert to Albuquerque, New Mexico, after the co-pilot passed out Tuesday.

Air-traffic controllers got word shortly after 8 a.m. that the plane would be landing after the first officer, who is second in command, had a medical episode, said Albuquerque airport spokesman Dan Jiron. The plane landed without incident around 8:20 a.m.

The co-pilot regained consciousness and was able to walk off the plane to be transported to a local hospital, Jiron said. He had no details about the co-pilot’s condition or what may have caused the episode.

An airline spokeswoman said 177 passengers and 10 crew members were aboard the plane. United did not release any details about the co-pilot.

The diversion comes a day after an American Airlines captain became gravely ill while flying from Phoenix to Boston. The flight diverted to Syracuse, N.Y., so the pilot could receive medical attention, but he later died.

Late Monday, the Onondaga County medical examiner’s office announced that the 57-year-old captain, Michael Johnston, had died from natural causes. Officials say the determination was made after an autopsy and preliminary toxicology tests. No other details were released.

His wife, Betty Jean Johnston, told NBC News that her husband had a double-bypass heart surgery in 2006 and likely suffered a heart attack. She said he had been in otherwise good health and that the airline required him to have a physical every six months.

This report includes material from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

  Comments