AerLingus A330 wrote:
It also happened on an American Airlines DC-10 flight into Newark (EWR) from Los Angeles (LAX) a few years back although I don't know precisely when.
The plane was literally seconds away from touching down when the Captain just died! Fortuanately the F/O was able to grab the controls and safely land it.
1987. DC10 incident was at completion of west coast all-nighter. During final approach Captain simply didn't respond to First Officer callouts as plane slowly drifted off proper course/glideslope. When deviations became too large without corrective effort the FO looked over to see the Captain's head slumped forward with both hands still on the controls. FO took control (below 1000 feet AGL) and landed the plane while the FE pulled Captain's shoulder straps back so the Captain's body wouldn't push the control yoke forward. During landing rollout the FE called the Flight Attendants forward and they began CPR as the cockpit crew completed safe rollout and called for medical assistance. Captain did not survive.
I recall this well since I had viewed an AA training video that demonstrated this exact scenario although in B727 not DC10 (i.e. Captain quits flying on short final with no other indications).
Just a few years ago an AA MD80 diverted in west Texas when the FO experienced a major heart attack during climb. If memory serves, Captain went from 33,000 feet to stopped on the runway at Midland-Odessa airport in less than 10 minutes.
There have been a couple of other incidents at other airlines I vaguely recall in the past 13 years but I don't recall any details. One of the major reasons airline travel is so safe is the number of backup systems required to be operating before the aircraft is dispatched. That includes the number of pilots. ;-)
*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!