Pilot thought instructor who died in-flight was ‘pretending’
The flight instructor died in flight of cardiac arrest, but the co-pilot thought he was joking and only realized after the man shrugged his shoulders after landing on the runway.
According to the new safety report In this incident, the pilot thought his instructor was pretending to be asleep while flying near Blackpool Airport in Lancashire, England on 29 June 2022.
The UK Aviation Accidents Investigation Service reported that qualified pilots had asked their instructors to accompany them in the four-seater Piper PA-28 for safety reasons in windy conditions.
Before takeoff, the pilot told AAIB that the two were chatting normally while he 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.
According to the AAIB report, “People who spoke to him on the morning of the incident said he had his usual bubbly personality 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 AAIB report concludes that although the instructor co-pilot was qualified in this case and was able to land the plane safely, the outcome could have been very different.
The AAIB said that “no test or evaluation is 100% certain to detect heart problems” and that it “minimizes the risk to flight safety and provides a fair and reasonable medical evaluation of individuals”. You have to find a balance between what you do and what you do.” “The rarity of in-flight heart attack accidents suggests that this balance is now about right.”