Continental Flight 61 pilot dies mid flight

June 19th, 2009 - 1:11 pm ICT by John Le Fevre  

Passengers on a Continental Airlines flight from Belgium to New Jersey had an uneventful landing, despite the flights 60-year-old pilot dyeing mid-flight.

Continental Flight 61, a Boeing 777 with 247 passengers onboard landed at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport shortly before 1200 (1600 GMT).

In a stroke of good fortune an additional relief co-pilot was traveling on the flight and assisted the flights co-pilot to land the plane.

Passengers reported a request over the inflight intercom about halfway through the flight but were not told that the pilot had died.

Dr. Julien Struyzen, a cardiologist and radiologist from Brussels on the flight, said he responded to the request for a doctor and went to the cockpit and examined the pilot. “He was not alive,” Dr Struyven said.

Dr Struyven said he suspected the pilot had suffered a cardiac arrest. He said he used a defibrillator to try and revive the pilot, but could not.

A fleet of fire trucks and medical emergency teams met the plane when it landed.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, said the FAA told Newark airport officials to have emergency crews standing by for the landing.

The plane landed without any problem, he said, and a medical examiner met the plane to help handle the situation.

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