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American Airlines Pilot Who Died Enroute To Boston Had Double Bypass Surgery

October 6, 2015 - On Monday, American Airlines Flight 550 a red-eye flight with 147 passengers and a flight crew of 5 departed Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport just after 12 AM for Boston's Logan Airport. Enroute, the captain, Michael Johnston, 57, of Utah fell ill while piloting the Airbus A320 airplane.

Enroute, the copilot contacted air traffic control and stated "Syracuse, American 550, medical emergency, captain is incapacitated, request handling for runway." The Airbus A320 was diverted to Syracuse Hancock International Airport where it landed safely just after 7 AM.

It would appear that as the aircraft approached the New York area, Johnston's condition got worse. Upon touch down in Syracuse the aircraft was met by emergency responders. Johnston had succumb to a heart attack and died.


In a news statement to the media, an American Airlines spokesperson said, "Unfortunately, our pilot passed away. We are incredibly saddened by this event and we are focused on caring for our pilot's family and colleagues."

"I want to take a moment to thank Mike's crewmembers on Flight 550. They took extraordinary care of Mike, each other and our customers. We couldn't be more proud of the teamwork this crew showed during an extremely difficult time."

Johnston's wife told a local news outlet in Salt Lake City that her husband had a double bypass surgery in 2006, and he had heart problems for years. It was later learned that Johnson had died during the flight and medics waiting on the tarmac had pronounced him dead at the scene.

American Airlines sent out a new flight crew and just before noon time, Flight 550 departed New York for Boston, it landed at 12:30 PM. The FAA reported that since 1994, only 7 pilots for the U.S. airlines have died during flight.



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