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Flight turns back after co-pilot faints and then dies


An example of why commercial airline or commuter flights require a minimum flight crew of two pilots has been provided by low-cost carrier Thai Lion Air.

In a sad incident, one of the airline’s B737-900 flights was forced to return to Hat Yai airport and make an emergency landing after a co-pilot lost consciousness 20 minutes after take-off and later died.

The second officer, or co-pilot, of flight SL8537 from Hat Yai to Bangkok, collapsed and was later pronounced dead, the Bangkok Post reported.

A spokesman said the 47-year-old Dutch pilot died while being conveyed from the airport to hospital. The cause of death is not yet known but his most recent medical check-up in February and March showed no signs of any problem, reports said.

Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (Aerothai) said the man died of a heart attack on the plane.

Simon Hradecky’s Aviation Herald carried the facts of the incident, adding that: “A replacement Boeing 737-900 registration HS-LTI reached Bangkok with a delay of 2:15 hours.”

Several readers questioned why a replacement aircraft was necessary. The answer is that the aircraft needs to be checked to rule out the possibility that some problem aboard, fumes for instance, contributed. Also, depending on local laws, a death aboard an aircraft can result in the aircraft being treated as a potential crime scene until foul play has been ruled out by the investigating authorities.

Written by : Peter Needham