Aeroflot Pilot Dies Following Mid Air Heart Attack

A Russian Aeroflot pilot has died following a mid-air heart attack. The 49 year old co-pilot was flying between Moscow and the Black Sea resort of Anapa. Sadly, efforts to revive the individual were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced deceased by medical personnel at Rostov, where the aircraft had made an emergency landing.

Aeroflot A320 makes an emergency landing after the co-pilot suffered a heart attack. Photo: Alex Beltyukov via Wikimedia

Aeroflot flight number SU1546 from Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) to Anapa Airport (AAQ) departed Moscow on time at 08:20 local time. While cruising at 33,000 feet on route to the popular Black Sea resort of Anapa, the co-pilot of the aircraft, an Airbus A320 registration number VP-BLH complained about not feeling very well.

After dispatching one of the flight attendants to see if the aircraft had a doctor on board and then having her come back empty-handed, the captain decided to make an emergency landing at the nearest suitable airport.

The co-pilot was only 49-years-old

While radioing ahead to Platov International Airport (ROV) in Rostov-on-Don, the captain of the plane advised the tower that he had a medical emergency aboard the aircraft. When giving him permission to land, the tower at ROV the tower said they would have medical staff standing by to meet the aircraft. It landed safely at Rostov at 09:57.


The pilot made an emergency landing at ROV. Photo: FlightRadar24

Despite a medical team boarding the aircraft and an ambulance standing by, a source told the Russian TASS news agency that the 49-year-old co-pilot had suffered a massive heart attack in the cockpit.

The cause of death appears to be from a massive heart attack

Medical staff on the ground were unable to resuscitate the dead pilot and took the body away in the ambulance.

“Unfortunately it was not possible to resuscitate the pilot,” an Aeroflot spokesperson told RBC news outlet, who passed the information on to TASS.

“He died in the ambulance. We express our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

Preliminary reports point to the unexpected death as being due to a heart attack or thrombosis. The Russian Investigative Committee’s southern investigative department will now launch an investigation into the pilot’s death and the hours running up to it.

The aircraft later took off from Platov International Airport at 13:12 and landed in Anapa at 13:53.

Incidents like this are extremely rare

Incidents like the one today in which one of the pilots suffered a heart attack are extremely rare. Airline pilots required to take a physical exam every 12 months. Captains over the age of 40 are required to have a medical check-up every six months.

If ever one of the two pilots should suffer a heart attack or be unable to fly the aircraft, the other pilot in the cockpit is more than capable of landing the plane.

Another pilot was found and the flight carried on to Anapa a few hours later. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

Back in 2010, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary famously said that short-haul flights only needed to have one pilot on board. Fortunately for us, the European Aviation Safety Agency requires and airliner to have two pilots in the cockpit.

It is tragic that something like this ever occurs, but to quote my favorite saying from John Lennon.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”