Passenger takes control of Air Transat flight after crew member becomes 'incapacitated'

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A passenger aboard an Air Transat flight took control of the airplane after a crew member became “incapacitated” last month.

Flight TS-186 en route from Toronto Pearson to Punta Cana International Airport departed at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 20, and was due to arrive in the Dominican Republic at around 2 p.m. local time.

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Nearly three hours into the flight, a member from the aircraft’s flight crew allegedly became incapacitated. One of the 299 passengers on board, who happened to be a company-qualified pilot, stepped in and replaced them.

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The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) did not specify the precise role of the incapacitated individual.

The crew performed a descent towards their destination and ultimately landed safely in the Dominican Republic with no reported injuries.

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Earlier this year, a similar incident occurred on an Air Canada flight where an off-duty pilot assumed the crew member’s duties after they became incapacitated on a flight from Toronto to Newfoundland.

According to aviation blog FlightCopilot, modern airliners are designed to generally have a minimum of two operating pilots; a Commander and a Co-Pilot.

The incapacitation of one crew member is “an emergency and would require a diversion and landing at a suitable airport.”

When such an event occurs, the first thing to do is ensure the aircraft is flying safely.

“The remaining pilot will immediately become both pilot flying and monitoring,” the blog wrote.

In an Airbus, a red push button is pressed for about 45 seconds to disengage the incapacitated pilot’s side-stick in the event that they have collapsed and put undesired pressures on it.

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At this point, the aircraft is safe to fly, and a request can be made for a crew member to come into the flight deck and attend to the incapacitated pilot.

One crew member can stay on the jump seat to remain with the pilot and the rest can start securing the cabin for landing,” FlightCopilot explained.

Though the event is rare, following Standard Operating Procedures is vital to ensure the safety of all those on board.

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