American Airlines Copilot Diverts after Captain Dies Mid-Flight


An American Airlines copilot safely landed an Airbus A320 in Syracuse, New York, yesterday after the captain became ill and died on the scheduled flight from Phoenix to Boston.

American Flight 550 left Phoenix at 11:55 p.m. local time Sunday with 147 passengers onboard and diverted mid-flight, landing shortly after 7 a.m. EDT on Monday. After the captain became gravely ill, the first officer calmly took over, declared an emergency and landed in Syracuse, the airline said.

In a recording of the copilot's exchange with ATC, he expressed concern over whether ambulance medics could reach the airplane quickly. He was assured they could and instructed to taxi to a gate where the medics would meet the plane.

Passengers on the flight were told the pilot was sick and it was making an emergency landing in Syracuse. They later were informed of his death.

A replacement crew was sent to Syracuse, and the Airbus A320 continued on to Boston later in the day.

American Airlines hailed the copilot and the rest of the crew, saying they took extraordinary care of "each other and our customers" during the flight.

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