Thursday, March 30, 2017

William "Mike" Grubbs: American Airlines, Boeing 737-800, flight AA-1353, N951AA

WASHINGTON -- Audio posted online reveals the tense moment in the cockpit when a pilot died during a flight. 

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker released a statement to employees saying one of its pilots died in flight, CBS News learned Thursday.

William “Mike” Grubbs, a 58-year-old Dallas-based pilot, died Wednesday while American Airlines Flight 1353 was on approach to Albuquerque, New Mexico from Dallas-Forth Worth.

The Boeing 737 had 136 passengers and six crew members aboard; it arrived in New Mexico shortly after 3:30 p.m. local time. The plane taxied normally to a gate and was met by paramedics. posted an audio exchange between the pilot and air traffic control:

Pilot: Tower, American 1353, we’ve got an issue with one of the pilots, I’ve declared an emergency, I’d like to have the emergency crew on landing. 

Tower: Ok. Which gate are you going too? 

Pilot: We’re going to Bravo 1. Thank you. 

Pilot: The copilot has passed out.

“We are deeply saddened over the loss of one of our American Airlines family,” Parker wrote in the statement. “Despite heroic efforts to revive him, Mike passed away.”

Grubbs had been with the airline since 2010 after working for American’s regional subsidiary Envoy.

“Our hearts are with Mike’s wife, Helen, and their entire family,” the statement read. “They lost a husband and a father and many of our colleagues lost a personal friend. Our team is fully focused on taking care of Mike’s family at this time. Please join us in keeping Mike’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”

Deaths like this are “extremely rare,” according to an FAA spokesperson. At least seven commercial pilots have now died during flight in the last 23 years.

The most recent incident occurred in Oct. 2015, as previously reported by CBS News.

Commercial airline pilots under 40 have a physical once a year, and those over 40 have to pass stringent physicals every 6 months. EKGs start at age 35.

There is no word yet from the coroner on the cause of death.

Story and video:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An American Airlines first officer died after becoming ill just before his plane landed in Albuquerque.

During the flight from Dallas-Fort Worth, the captain declared an emergency and landed the plane at Albuquerque International Sunport on Wednesday night.

The plane taxied to a gate and was met by paramedics, who were unable to save William "Mike" Grubbs, 58, a Dallas-based pilot.

Passengers were apparently unaware of the gravity of the incident during the last minutes of the flight but said the captain told them after landing that they would not be able to exit the plane immediately because of a medical emergency.

As of midday Thursday, there was no word on the cause of death.

Grubbs joined American in 2010 as a pilot of Boeing 737s after flying smaller planes for American Eagle.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker expressed his sadness and gratitude to the crew of Flight 1353 in a letter to employees.

The pilots' union said Grubbs lived in Lebanon, Tennessee, and said it was offering help to his family. He was married and was the father of a son, who will graduate from college in May, according to the airline.

Pilot deaths during flights are rare. In most cases, the other pilot in the cockpit has been able to land the plane without further incident.

In 2015, the captain of an American Airlines jet became ill and died during a late-night flight from Phoenix. The co-pilot of the Boston-bound plane made an emergency landing in Syracuse, New York.

A United Airlines pilot suffered a heart attack during a flight from Houston to Seattle that made an emergency landing in Boise, Idaho. He died several hours later at a hospital.

Pilots must pass regular medical exams. In 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration raised the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65, and some have suggested raising it again to help deal with a shortage of pilots.

Original article can be found here:

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