American Airlines First Officer Dies on Flight

An American Airlines First Officer has died after falling ill during a landing on Wednesday in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Audio posted online reveals the tense moment in the cockpit when a pilot died during a landing.

American Airlines Flight 1353, a Boeing 737-800 flying from Dallas-Fort Worth to Albuquerque, was 2 miles from landing. Then the captain declared an emergency, citing "a medical issue" aboard, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman. American identified the first officer aboard flight 1353 as William "Mike" Grubbs.

American Airlines First Officer Dies on Flight American Airlines.

LiveATC.net posted an audio exchange between the pilot and air traffic control:

Pilot: Tower, American 1353, we’ve got an issue with one of the pilots, I’ve declared an emergency, I’d like to have the emergency crew on landing.

Tower: Ok. Which gate are you going too?

Pilot: We’re going to Bravo 1. Thank you. Pilot: The copilot has passed out.

A spokeswoman for American said in a telephone interview that the airline offers its deepest condolences to family and friends of the pilot, who was based in the Dallas area.

"American airlines is deeply saddened by the death of first officer William “Mike” Grubbs," spokeswoman Polly Tracey said. "We are taking care of first officer Grubbs' family and colleagues and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”

Passengers were apparently unaware of the gravity of the incident during the last minutes of the flight. But said the captain told them after landing that they would not be able to exit the plane immediately because of a medical emergency.

The FAA said it "will follow up with the airline" to learn more about Wednesday's incident.

Many of the tasks during final approach in a Boeing 737 can be handled safely by a single crew member. But it would significantly increase the stress and workload for the captain.

Incapacitation of a member of the flight crew is extremely rare. A 57-year-old American Airlines captain died in October 2015. He was falling ill during a flight between Phoenix and Boston. That flight landed safely after being diverted to Syracuse, New York.

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