Accident and Serious Incident Reports: Crew Incapacitation

Accident and Serious Incident Reports: Crew Incapacitation

Definition

A selection of reports relating to accidents and serious incidents which involved a Pilot Incapacitation.

Accidents

Events on the SKYbrary Database which list Incapacitation as a causal factor:

On 29 October 2019, an Airbus A321 was descending towards its destination, Kaohsiung, when the First Officer suddenly lost consciousness without warning. The Captain declared a MAYDAY and with cabin crew assistance, he was secured clear of the flight controls and given oxygen which appeared beneficial. He was then removed to the passenger cabin where a doctor recommended continuing oxygen treatment. On arrival, he had fully regained consciousness. Medical examination and tests both on arrival and subsequently were unable to identify a cause although a context of cumulative fatigue was considered likely after three consecutive nights of inadequate sleep.

On 29 October 2019, an Airbus A321 was descending towards its destination, Kaohsiung, when the First Officer suddenly lost consciousness without warning. The Captain declared a MAYDAY and with cabin crew assistance, he was secured clear of the flight controls and given oxygen which appeared beneficial. He was then removed to the passenger cabin where a doctor recommended continuing oxygen treatment. On arrival, he had fully regained consciousness. Medical examination and tests both on arrival and subsequently were unable to identify a cause although a context of cumulative fatigue was considered likely after three consecutive nights of inadequate sleep.

On 27 September 2017, a Boeing 777-200LRF Captain left the flight deck to retrieve their crew meal about 40 minutes after departing Abu Dhabi but whilst doing so he collapsed unconscious in the galley and despite assistance subsequently died. A MAYDAY was declared and a diversion to Kuwait successfully completed by the remaining pilot. The Investigation determined that the cause of death was cardiopulmonary system collapse due to a stenosis in the coronary artery. It was noted that the Captain’s medical condition had been partially concealed from detection because of his unapproved use of potentially significant self-medication.

On 27 September 2017, a Boeing 777-200LRF Captain left the flight deck to retrieve their crew meal about 40 minutes after departing Abu Dhabi but whilst doing so he collapsed unconscious in the galley and despite assistance subsequently died. A MAYDAY was declared and a diversion to Kuwait successfully completed by the remaining pilot. The Investigation determined that the cause of death was cardiopulmonary system collapse due to a stenosis in the coronary artery. It was noted that the Captain’s medical condition had been partially concealed from detection because of his unapproved use of potentially significant self-medication.

On 21 January 2019, a Piper PA46-310P en-route north northwest of Guernsey was reported missing and subsequently confirmed to have broken up in flight during an uncontrolled descent. The Investigation found that neither the pilot nor the aircraft involved were able to be used for commercial passenger flight operations but also found that although the direct cause of loss of control was unproven, it was most likely the consequence of carbon monoxide poisoning originating from an exhaust system leak. The safety implications arising from operation of private flights for commercial passenger transport purposes contrary to regulatory requirements were also highlighted.

On 21 January 2019, a Piper PA46-310P en-route north northwest of Guernsey was reported missing and subsequently confirmed to have broken up in flight during an uncontrolled descent. The Investigation found that neither the pilot nor the aircraft involved were able to be used for commercial passenger flight operations but also found that although the direct cause of loss of control was unproven, it was most likely the consequence of carbon monoxide poisoning originating from an exhaust system leak. The safety implications arising from operation of private flights for commercial passenger transport purposes contrary to regulatory requirements were also highlighted.

On 15 August 2016, the cognitive condition of an Airbus A320 Captain deteriorated en-route to Riga and he assigned all flight tasks to the First Officer. When his condition deteriorated further, an off duty company First Officer travelling as a passenger was invited to occupy the flight deck supernumerary crew seat to assist. Once descent had commenced, the Captain and assisting First Officer swapped seats and the flight was thereafter completed without any further significant event. The Investigation concluded that the Captain’s serious physical and mental exhaustion had been the result of the combined effect of chronic fatigue and stress.

On 15 August 2016, the cognitive condition of an Airbus A320 Captain deteriorated en-route to Riga and he assigned all flight tasks to the First Officer. When his condition deteriorated further, an off duty company First Officer travelling as a passenger was invited to occupy the flight deck supernumerary crew seat to assist. Once descent had commenced, the Captain and assisting First Officer swapped seats and the flight was thereafter completed without any further significant event. The Investigation concluded that the Captain’s serious physical and mental exhaustion had been the result of the combined effect of chronic fatigue and stress.

On 4 February 2020, an Airbus A350-900 initiated a go around from its destination approach at 1,400 feet aal following a predictive windshear alert unsupported by the prevailing environmental conditions but the First Officer mishandled it and the stop altitude was first exceeded and then flown though again in a descent before control as instructed was finally regained four minutes later. Conflict with another aircraft occurred during this period. The Investigation concluded the underlying cause of the upset was a lack of awareness of autopilot status by the First Officer followed by a significant delay before the Captain took over control.

On 15 August 2018, a Boeing 737-300SF crew concerned about a small residual pressure in a bleed air system isolated after a fault occurred en-route then sought and were given non-standard further troubleshooting guidance by company maintenance which, when followed, led directly and indirectly to additional problems including successive incapacitation of both pilots and a MAYDAY diversion. The Investigation found that the aircraft concerned was carrying a number of relevant individually minor undetected defects which meant the initial crew response was not completely effective and prompted a request for in-flight assistance which was unnecessary and led to the further outcomes.

Related Articles

  • For all accident reports held on SKYbrary, see the main section on Accident Reports accessible through the sidebar menu on the left of your screen.
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