Alaska Airlines Makes Emergency Landing After Pilot Loses Consciousness

The co-pilot landed the plane safely in Portland.

February 01, 2013, 2:00 AM

Feb. 1, 2013— -- An Alaska Airlines plane made an emergency landing in Portland, Ore., after the pilot lost consciousness Thursday night.

The co-pilot on Flight 473 from Los Angeles to Seattle made an emergency landing at Portland International Airport a little after 9 p.m. local time, according to Paul McElroy, spokesman for Alaska Airlines.

McElroy said the pilot suffered from a medical condition, but declined to name specifics, citing company policy.

The Boeing 737-700 carrying 116 passengers and five crew members landed safely. The pilot reportedly opened the cabin door and collapsed in front of passengers in the aisle, Hylan Slobodkin, a passenger, told ABC News affiliate KATU in Portland.

A doctor on board tended to the pilot after he passed out as the co-pilot took control of the plane, McElroy said.

Portland Fire Department and other emergency workers met the plane at the gate, McElroy said.

The pilot was taken away in an ambulance and brought to a hospital, according to McElroy. The airline has not identified the pilot but said he has been flying with Alaska Airlines for 28 years. The first officer has been flying for Alaska Airlines for 11 years.

"It's very rare that we have a pilot pass out, lose consciousness or have a physical impairment in the cockpit, but when it does that's the reason why we have two people up there very well trained," ABC aviation analyst and former Alaska Airlines pilot John Nance said.

"Your very first job as a co-pilot, if the captain should keel over, in this instance is to fly the airplane. That's the number one. Try to revive him and figure out what's going on if you can," Nance said.

A flight crew was flown in and the remaining passengers continued to Seattle on the same plane overnight.

An Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Las Vegas flight made an emergency landing Jan. 22 after the co-pilot fainted.

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