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Tue 31 May 2011 01:42 PM

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Trainee Emirates pilot blacks out at plane controls

Air cadet fell asleep while on solo flight, awoke 250km out to sea off Australian coast

Trainee Emirates pilot blacks out at plane controls
Aviation, plane take off, aeroplane generic, airplane generic, airport, plane, airplane, aeroplane

A trainee Emirates Airline pilot passed out at the controls of an aircraft and was unconscious for 55 minutes while on a solo training flight near the Australian city of Adelaide.

A report by Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau (TSB) said the young Middle Eastern pilot blacked out at the controls, waking after 55 minutes to find the single-engine light aircraft had overshot the airport and had headed 250km out to sea.

The unnamed pilot, who was on a year-long Emirates Airlines scholarship at the Flight Training Adelaide institute, was flying solo and no passengers were onboard.

According to the TSB report, the pilot reported feeling hot and sweaty and climbed the aircraft to 1,980m in order to cool the cabin.

Air traffic control at Parafield Airport attempted to contact the pilot by radio but the calls went unanswered.

The plane, which only had enough fuel onboard for an additional 60 minutes, proceeded to fly itself out into open water until the pilot regained consciousness.

"The plane would have kept going until it ran out of fuel if he hadn't regained consciousness," bureau spokesman Dan O'Malley told Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper.

According to media reports in Australia, the pilot, who is in his 20s, has had his flying licence suspended following the incident.

“As the medical aspects of this case are currently under investigation, Emirates is unable to make any comment,” a spokesperson for the Dubai-based flag carrier said.

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Abdulaziz 9 years ago

Now lets get ready for all the hatred comments from Emirates haters :)

Peter Peter 9 years ago

By the way Abdulaziz , an Emirates scholarship does not necessarily assure him a job at Emirates - particularly now.

N Konnola 9 years ago

thank god no one got hurt. it could have happened to any one.

aflam 9 years ago

The fact that he was flying alone means that he has enough hours / experience to warrant such a flight. Him passing out at the controls may be due to a medical condition and has nothing to do with Emirates or Australia or the plane itself.

Peter Johnston 9 years ago

Whether we like Emirates or not, he's a lucky man to be alive today. I hope the condition that may have caused this, is not serious and that he can continue his ambition to become a commercial pilot.

Toby 9 years ago

Poor fellow, his dreams of being a pilot look to be in ruins. But thats why you have extended training, you find these things out before you put many lives at risk.

Hush 9 years ago

Or maybe he fell asleep 'behind the wheel', because he did not follow protocol. Lets wait for the report to come out before we give sympathy or point fingers.

Capt.Hamid 9 years ago

if you check the Parafield weather you can notice, it is min 3C to Max 19C, meaning the student could have the heater on which the heating system passes the warm exhaust air through the pipes, and if the exhaust pipe has leakage or holes due to careless maintenance could cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Hyperventilation and Hypoxia also could be the reason. If you check the Symptoms of quoted sicknesses, none of them first associate with feeling hot and sweaty that heart attack does.

VH DV8 9 years ago

Capt Hamid's comments about the temperature are incorrect. The incident happened in the Australian summer so he would not have had the heater on. December 27th - so why does it take five months for an investigation? Other pilots tell me that the altitude he climbed to should not have caused him to black out.

Lucky this did not happen over metropolitan Adelaide or he may have crashed into a home and killed innocent people. Training airports should be situated well away from our homes -

Hesham 9 years ago

Why the search and rescue did not follow the plane, by helicopter, after the plane did not report after 30 mins, so it flew 60 mints. They could follow him by helicopter, and at least not like Hollywood movies send someone into the cabin but also search the crash site, and send divers to get the ditched pilot and give him assistance. It was a human onboard, and I believe the airplane must had transponder which appears over the airport screen, with SQWAK CODE. They did not cover him, and he could be alive. Poor the guy he switch the Auto pilot on, as knew his health is not cooperating. He did his job well done, but the controllers did not.