Pilot From Another Airline Helped Co-pilot Land Southwest Flight 6013 After Captain Fell Ill Mid-flight

An off-duty pilot on Southwest flight 6013 from Las Vegas to Columbus on Wednesday assisted in flying the aircraft back to Harry Reid International Airport after the captain fell ill mid-flight en route to John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

The weekly flight which took off around 6:40 am was aborted mid-air on Wednesday shortly after its departure when the captain of the plane developed stomach pains and became “incapacitated” during the flight. The co-pilot informed Air Traffic Control and turned the aircraft back to Las Vegas as the captain was in need of an ambulance. The captain was moved out of the flight deck and looked after by a flight attendant at the back of the plane.

Southwest Airlines Airbus A320
Off-duty Pilot Helped Land Southwest Flight 6013 After Captain Fell Ill Mid-flight © Trac Vu

Co-pilot and Off-duty Pilot Fly Back To Las Vegas

An off-duty pilot from another airline who was a passenger on the flight went into the cockpit to help the co-pilot with radio communication. According to a statement from Southwest,  “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”.

The plane which flew for over 1 hour returned to Harry Reid International Airport around 7:50 am without any incident as medical emergency services awaited its arrival.

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An off-duty pilot assisted the Southwest pilot with radio communication © Saab

The airline which incurred huge losses from flight cancellations in the last quarter of 2022, arranged another flight crew for the plane to take passengers to their destination. The plane departed again for John Glenn Columbus International Airport around 11:00 am.

Southwest Airlines Appreciates Off-duty Pilot

Southwest Airlines appreciated the off-duty pilot in a statement saying “We greatly appreciate their support and assistance”. The airline added that “It is standard protocol for our Flight Crews to request assistance from travelling medical personnel if there happens to be any on board, during medical events involving Customers or staff”.

The flight crew was also commended for it handled the incident. “We commend the crew for their professionalism and appreciate our customer’s patience and understanding regarding the situation,” said airline spokesperson Chris Perry.

Southwest Airlines has not released any information about the condition of the captain.

The incident is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Demilade Adeyemi
Demilade Adeyemi
Aviation Reporter - Motivated media communications professional with a Master's degree in Journalism and Media Communication. Skilled in developing strategies, utilizing media channels, and crafting engaging content to bring you the very latest here on Travel Radar.