The pilot of an American Airlines passenger jet died during a red-eye flight from Phoenix to Boston on Monday morning.
The incident occurred about four hours into the flight, which was diverted to Syracuse, New York, where it landed around 7:10 am, according to the tracking service Flight Aware.
An American Airlines spokeswoman told WBZ-TV that one of the pilots became ill mid-flight.
In an audio recording from the cockpit posted by LiveATC.net, the co-pilot can be heard telling the control tower, “A medical emergency. Captain is incapacitated, request handling for runway one zero landing.”
Passengers told reporters that they experienced a quick descent followed by some turbulence when a member of the flight crew announced that the captain wasn’t feeling well, WBZ-TV reports.
The co-pilot was able to safely land the plane. The Federal Aviation Administration requires two crew members in the cockpit at all times in case of such emergencies.
A replacement crew took over the flight in Syracuse.
The spokesperson confirmed that the pilot died but did not provide his name or cause of death.
“This is a terribly sad event and American Airlines is focused on caring for the pilot’s family at this time as well as the American Airlines staff and passengers on board the flight,” the airline spokeswoman said.