An off-duty pilot has been hailed as a hero for aiding in the safe emergency landing of a Lufthansa flight travelling from Newark, New Jersey to Frankfurt, Germany. The plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Dublin after the co-pilot fell ill.
The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) said the plane, Lufthansa LH403, was carrying 264 passengers and landed safely at 5.30am on Monday morning. The off-duty pilot happened to be travelling as a passenger when the co-pilot began suffering from a severe migraine.
The first officer became “incapacitated” while the plane was over the Atlantic Ocean. The pilot contacted Shannon Airport and was diverted to Dublin for an emergency landing.
The off-duty pilot made himself known to cabin crew when he heard their flight had been diverted.
He was allowed to enter the cockpit having confirmed his qualifications and experience.
A Dublin source told the Herald, “It was a miracle to have a man with his background on board. He helped the pilot land the plane in an extremely professional manner. Without him, we could have had a crisis on our hands.”
The first officer was later carried off the plane in what one witness described as a "semi-conscious state".
A source told the Irish Independent, “It was a miracle. It had all the elements of a Hollywood movie but thankfully one with a happy ending.”
The off-duty pilot was fully licensed to operate the 747 plane according to a Lufthansa spokesperson. They said, “In such circumstances it's absolutely normal procedure for the pilot, the flight captain, to continue to operate the aircraft.
“Also, where necessary, the cabin crew are fully trained and can be called upon to read checklists back to the pilot.
“The procedures are in place for such an eventuality. But the efforts of the off-duty pilot were certainly appreciated.”