Air crew had to forcibly remove the pilot of a plane carrying 155 passengers when he suffered a breakdown mid-flight over the Atlantic. An air steward then had to help pilot the jet in an emergency landing at Shannon.
Another steward was hurt as the crew forced the co-pilot out of the cockpit.
Yesterday, the Dublin-based Air Accident Investigation Unit released a report into the Air Canada Boeing 767 drama.
The report reveals how the cabin crew were called on by the captain to forcibly remove his second-in-command who had cracked up.
The co-pilot had been rambling on and was in danger of causing danger at the flight controls.
His First Officer’s behaviour on the Toronto to Heathrow flight had become “belligerent and unco-operative”.
One cabin attendant suffered a wrist injury carrying the co pilot to a seat in the body of the plane, the report says.
The twin-engined plane was half way over the Atlantic on January 28 last when the 58-year-old commander noticed his First Officer’s behaviour.
The plane had climbed to 36,000 feet and as the aircraft proceeded on track, the Commander became increasingly concerned with the officer’s condition.
“The First Officer had left the flight deck several times for short periods, and on attempting to re-enter the flight deck, standard procedure was not followed,” the report said.
“ In conversation he remarked several times that he was very tired. With the workload now light in the cruise, the Commander suggested that the First Officer take a controlled rest break on the flight deck.
“The First Officer took the break as suggested on the flight deck, and was later brought some food from the galley.
“Following the meal he continued on the controlled rest break, about one hour later the aircraft approached the mid-ocean point at 30 degrees West (30W). At this point the First Officer began a conversation which was rambling and disjointed in nature and not at all in character, as the Commander knew him to be an outgoing and talkative person.”
“Past the mid-ocean point the First Officer took another extended break after which his attempt to re-enter the flight deck was contrary to procedures. The Commander again briefed his colleague on correct procedures. The First Officer re-occupied his seat but did not fasten his seat belt as is normally done.
“The First Officers behaviour then became belligerent and uncooperative which convinced the Commander he was now dealing with a crew member who was effectively incapacitated.”
“The Commander called the Incharge Flight Attendant 4 to the Flight deck to witness what was occurring and told him that he was now of the opinion that he was dealing with a flight crew incapacitation.
“The First Officer was informed by the Commander that he was to secure his seat belt and become co-operative or he would have to consider him incapacitated and with the resulting repercussions. The First Officer was unresponsive to this communication.
“The Commander then directed the Incharge Flight Attendant to ‘secure the First Officer away from the flight controls, then with the help of other crew members, remove him from the cockpit.
“The crew then checked if medical assistance was available on board. One Cabin Attendant sustained a wrist injury bringing the First Officer to his seat. Two doctors on board attended the patient.
The Commander decided to divert the plane to Shannon.
The First Officer was taken to Ennis Regional Hospital for treatment. He was later joined by his wife and remained under hospital care for 11 days where a gradual improvement in his condition was made.
The First Officer was an experienced pilot, with 6,581 hours flying time, the report noted.