On 22nd March 2023, a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Columbus returned to Las Vegas after the captain suddenly became ill and required medical attention. A pilot from another airline who happened to be on board stepped in to help the co-pilot land the aircraft.
The Southwest Boeing 737-700 with registration N7855A was operating flight WN6013 from Las Vegas to Columbus, Ohio. However, according to the air traffic control, the captain reportedly felt stomach pains and became “incapacitated” while flying to Columbus. A spokesperson from Southwest later confirmed that one of their pilots required medical attention.
Fortunately, a credentialed pilot from another airline was among the passengers on Southwest flight WN6013. This pilot stepped in and helped with radio communications while the Southwest co-pilot flew the aircraft back to Las Vegas.
“A credentialed pilot from another airline, who was on board, entered the flight deck and assisted with radio communication while our Southwest pilot flew the aircraft. We greatly appreciate their support and assistance.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that Southwest Airlines Flight 6013 safely landed at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas at approximately 8 a.m. without further issues.
Before continuing the journey to Columbus, the crew was changed. Passengers reached their destination with a delay of around 3.5 hours.
“We commend the crew for their professionalism and appreciate our customer’s patience and understanding regarding the situation,” an airlines spokesperson said.
The FAA officials are investigating the occurrence.
Could you land a plane relying only on the ATC?
According to a survey conducted by YouGovAmerica, approximately one-third of Americans (32%) believe that they could safely land a passenger aircraft in an emergency situation with only the assistance of air traffic control.
Among the 20,063 surveyed adults in the United States, almost half of the men (46%) feel “somewhat confident” or “very confident” in their ability to do so. In contrast, 20% of women share the same level of confidence.