An airline pilot has reportedly collapsed at his plane’s controls and died suddenly shortly after taking off from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Reports emerged on Tuesday that Captain Patrick Ford of the American Eagle Embraer 175 passed out at the controls on Saturday morning.
The plane had taken off from the runway and was en route to Columbus, Ohio when Captain Ford collapsed.
The co-pilot was forced to take over the controls and return the plane to land in Chicago.
Ford was rushed to the hospital by emergency services where he was pronounced dead, according to CNBC.
An audio recording of the incident reveals that Captain Ford was talking to an air traffic controller when his voice suddenly stopped.
Ford can be heard saying, “Tower, Envoy 3556…” before his voice stops.
A few seconds later, the controller asked anxiously, “Can I help you?”
Ford’s copilot, Captain Brandon Hendrickson, can then be heard telling the controller that he needs to turn the plane around and return.
“…3556, we need to return, captain is incapacitated,” Hendrickson told air traffic control about 30 minutes after take-off from the airport.
FAA is now investigating after the captain of American Eagle (Envoy) Flight 3556 became incapacitated shortly after taking off from ORD Saturday night. The captain died later at a hospital. The copilot safely landed the plane at ORD. 57 passengers & crewpic.twitter.com/pcvFIuUCM9
— Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) November 22, 2022
Captain Hendrickson took control of the plane and managed to land safely.
Ford was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
His cause of death was not immediately released.
The Vice President of Flight Operations at Envoy Air Ric Wilson released a statement following the incident.
“Despite heroic efforts to revive him, Captain in training, Patrick Ford, passed away,” Wilson said in a message to fellow pilots.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss.”
“Sincere thanks to Line Check Airman, Captain Brandon Hendrickson, for his leadership and professionalism in the safe handling of his aircraft, passengers, and crew,” Wilson continued.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has opened an investigation regarding the incident.
The number of pilots who have passed out or fainted while flying, or who have died as a result, has increased in recent months.
A Boeing flight commander died suddenly during a flight from Novokuznetsk to St Petersburg in Russia in September, according to a report from a Russian news outlet.
The co-pilot had to make an emergency landing at Omsk airport, but the commander died before he could receive medical assistance.
“The resuscitation ambulance team arrived at the airport ten minutes before the plane landed,” the Ministry of Health of the Omsk Region said.
“The team stated the death of the pilot before providing medical assistance.”
Another pilot reportedly “fainted” at 30,000 feet, prompting the plane to make an emergency landing in Greece last August.
The airline, Jet2, called the incident a “medical emergency,” according to Birmingham Live.
“One fuming passenger claimed the ordeal had delayed the start of their holiday by eight hours,” the outlet reported.
They said their family of four was given a €15 euro voucher each which covered a “basic meal.”
According to passengers, Jet2 does not compensate for delays due to medical emergencies.
The flight was rerouted as a “precautionary measure,” according to a representative from Jet2.
Commercial aviation news site Aviation Herald reported that two pilots on a flight from Sudan to Ethiopia last August had apparently fallen asleep and missed their landing.
“The incident took place on board an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 en route from Khartoum to Addis Ababa when the pilots fell asleep” and “the aircraft continued past the top of descent,” according to CNN.