Captain Taken Ill On Brussels Airlines Airbus A330 To Africa

An Africa-bound Brussels Airlines flight had to return to the Belgian capital yesterday after its captain fell ill. The A330-operated flight was heading for Lomé via Accra, but ended up back where it started after just over an hour in the air. Let’s take a closer look at what happened yesterday lunchtime, and how exactly this incident ended up panning out.

Brussels Airlines Airbus A330-300 Getty
Brussels Airlines flies the A330 to Accra and Lomé three times a week. Photo: Getty Images

The flight in question

Brussels Airlines flight SN277 is a regularly scheduled flight that departs from the Belgian flag carrier’s hub in the Belgian capital. According to data from, it operates three times a week from Brussels Airport (BRU), on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Its first destination is Accra Kotoka Airport (ACC), the only international airport in Ghana.

The flight is timed to depart Brussels at 11:35, and arrive in Accra at 17:20 local time. This gives it a duration of six hours and 45 minutes when accounting for the time difference. Following this, it has a second leg that takes it onwards to Togo’s Lomé Gnassingbé Eyadéma International (LFW). This sector departs at 18:30, and arrives 55 minutes later at 19:25.

Brussels Airlines is the only carrier to serve the Brussels-Accra-Lomé route, although Qatar Airways does fly from the Belgian capital to Accra on a cargo basis. Unfortunately, yesterday’s iteration of flight SN277 didn’t go to plan, with illness prompting a diversion.

Brussels Airlines Airbus A330-342 OO-SFD
There were 285 people onboard yesterday’s flight. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Ill captain prompts diversion

Flight SN277 departed Brussels yesterday with a slight delay at 11:51 local time. It began to climb on a southwesterly heading, but soon had to turn back. According to The Aviation Herald, the reason for this was a medical situation involving the flight’s captain.

This occurred when the captain suddenly became ill during the climb, prompting the first officer to take control of the aircraft and halt its ascent. Tracking data from shows that the maximum altitude reached by the plane, an 11-year-old Airbus A330-300 registered as OO-SFF, was 27,000 feet. It turned around just northeast of Paris, France.

Under the control of the first officer, the aircraft returned to its point or original, Brussels Airport. It made a safe landing there at 13:12 local time, after just over an hour in the skies. Having taken off earlier from runway 25R, it touched down on runway 25L.

Brussels Airlines Map
The aircraft had climbed to 27,000 feet before it had to turn back to Brussels. Image:

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A late arrival

The flight’s return to Brussels ended up delaying it by a few hours. However, a spokesperson for Brussels Airlines confirmed to Simple Flying that the captain “did not feel fit to complete the flight,” so the course of action was certainly the safest under the circumstances. The Aviation Herald adds that the captain’s condition was not related to coronavirus.

Once on the ground in Brussels, the carrier’s spokesperson explained to Simple Flying that “another captain took over and was able to operate the flight with the rest of the original crew.” The plane departed once again at 15:05 local time as flight SN2314, arriving in Accra at 20:13. It eventually reached Lomé at 21:41, with a total delay of two hours and 16 minutes.

What do you make of this incident? Have you ever been on a flight that has diverted due to an ill crew member? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.