WestJet declined to provide details on the illness or the current condition of the pilot, citing privacy concerns
Dec 07, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 2 minute read • 7 Comments
A plane flying from Calgary to Atlanta Monday afternoon was forced to turn around due to a medical emergency involving the pilot.
WestJet flight 1590 landed safely at Calgary International Airport at 1:12 p.m. Monday, just less than about an hour after taking off, according to public flight logs. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane was flying over southeastern Alberta when it turned back toward Calgary.
In an email statement, WestJet spokesperson Madison Kruger said EMS met the flight upon arrival and the pilot was removed from duty. Another pilot onboard took control of the plane.
“All WestJet flights have two pilots, to ensure that should any illness occur in the flight deck, there is an additional pilot onboard to ensure the continued safe operation of the aircraft and the safety of our guests and our crew,” Kruger said.
EMS said they responded to the airport terminal around 1:25 p.m. but that paramedics had no patient contact and left the scene without request for EMS assistance.
Edmontonian John White was a passenger on the flight, sitting four rows from the front of the plane. He first realized something was awry on the flight after noticing concern among flight attendants, one of whom brought a first-aid kit and a defibrillator into the cockpit.
“Then they made the call for if there is a doctor, nurse or EMT on the plane and as luck would have it, one doctor came forward and two nurses,” White said. He said a pilot on board in the passenger area also made his way to the cockpit.
White said the pilot was brought out of the cockpit and set down as medical volunteers treated him. The pilot appeared to collapse shortly afterwards.
“They were able to get him talking again after they got him on the floor, but they were working on him pretty feverishly,” White said.
WestJet declined to provide details on the illness or the current condition of the pilot, citing privacy concerns.
The airline said 70 passengers were on the flight, with some accommodated with travel Monday. The airline added additional Calgary-to-Atlanta and Atlanta-to-Calgary flights for Tuesday after the incident. A scramble and some lengthy queues ensued after the cancelled flight, White said.
White praised the pilot and medical professionals on board for their handling of the incident and safe carriage of the flight back to Calgary.
“When I saw the extra pilot go into place, I felt a lot better, and then my concern turned to the well-being of the pilot. . . They weren’t messing around or wasting any time,” he said. “And I will commend the flight attendant. They were really impressive and they kept us abreast of what was happening. It was impressive to see them jump into action like that.”