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Lancashire, Lancashire, England — A flight instructor died mid-flight of cardiac arrest, but the co-pilot thought he was joking and realized after the man shrugged after landing on the runway.
According to newly announced safety report In the incident, the pilot thought his instructor was pretending to be asleep while flying a loop over Blackpool Airport in Lancashire, England on 29 June 2022.
According to a report from the UK’s Aviation Accident Investigation Service, qualified pilots had asked their instructors to fly with them in the four-seater Piper PA-28 for safety reasons in high winds.
Before takeoff, the pilot told investigators that the two were chatting normally while the pilot taxied the plane to the runway. He said the instructor’s last words were “Looks good, there’s nothing behind you.”
Immediately after takeoff, the instructor’s head fell back. The two pilots knew each other so well that the co-pilot thought his buddy was “just pretending to take a nap” while he completed the circuit. As the plane turned around, the instructor crouched and rested his head on the co-pilot’s shoulder, thinking the pilot was still joking.
After landing safely with the instructor still on his shoulder and unresponsive, the pilot realized something was wrong and alerted airport emergency services, who were unable to revive the instructor.
The instructor, who has nearly 9,000 hours of flying experience, said he was in a good mood before his final flight.
The investigative report said, “People who spoke to him on the morning of the incident said he was a normal cheerful self and showed no signs of feeling unwell. said he was in good physical condition and had no abnormalities.
The British Civil Aviation Authority’s medical department investigated the accident and the instructor’s medical history and concluded that “based on the evidence provided, it is highly probable that he suffered a cardiac arrest as the aircraft took off”. He was known to suffer from high blood pressure, but it was within regulation.
The Air Accident Investigation Service report concludes that although the instructor’s co-pilot was qualified in this case and was able to land the plane safely, the outcome could have been very different.
The Investigations Division said that “no test or evaluation is 100% certain to detect heart problems”, “minimize the risk to flight safety and provide a fair and reasonable medical evaluation of the individual”. There has to be a balance between,” he said. “The rarity of in-flight heart attack accidents suggests that this balance is now about right.”