American Airlines Flight 550 left Phoenix at 11:55 pm local time on Sunday en route to Boston, spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said. After the captain was stricken, the first officer landed the plane in Syracuse shortly before 7 am yesterday, with 147 passengers and five crew members on board, she told.
Details of the medical emergency and the identity of the dead pilot weren't immediately released, and the airline wouldn't say when the death occurred. "We are incredibly saddened by this event, and we are focused on caring for our pilot's family and colleagues," the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline said yesterday.
A replacement crew was sent to Syracuse, and the plane, an Airbus A320, landed in Boston at 12:30 pm. Aviation experts said there was never any danger to passengers because pilots and co-pilots are equally capable of flying the aircraft.
Former airline pilot John Cox, an aviation safety consultant, said when one pilot becomes unable to fly the other will rely on help from the plane's automated systems and get priority treatment from air traffic controllers.
"The passengers were not in danger, absolutely not," he said. Before the flight landed in Syracuse, the first officer called the airport tower and said in a calm voice, "American 550. Medical emergency. Captain is incapacitated." he stated. He requested a runway to land on.

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