A Continental Airlines Boeing
757 flight to Puerto Vallarta,
diverted and delayed for several hours on January 20 after the captain experienced
a serious and eventually fatal medical problem mid-flight.
Although few details are
being disclosed, the airline confirms that the unspecified, but “serious”, medical
emergency resulted in the diversion of flight 1838 to McAllen International
Airport in Texas about 13:30 while en route to Mexico from the carrier’s Houston
“During the flight, the
captain experienced a serious medical problem which required the aircraft to
land immediately. The first officer consulted with Continental’s operations
center and arrangements were made to divert the aircraft to McAllen and to be met by an ambulance, and
this was conducted safely,” says the airline in a statement.
captain did not survive, and Continental is in the process of contacting family
members. The company is not releasing additional details about the pilot or the
nature of his affliction, although he is believed to have died of natural
Continental confirms that
the pilot, who was based at its New York Newark hub, had worked with the
airline for 21 years.
The aircraft resumed
service with a replacement crew and arrived at 19:17, adds a spokeswoman. The
aircraft was on the ground for about 3.5h, she notes.
There were 210 passengers
No other details are
being disclosed by the airline, and a preliminary US FAA report only notes “pilot
incapacitation”. The McAllen Fire Department, which responded to the incident,
was not available for comment.
McAllen airport officials are referring all
enquiries to Continental.