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Home > Emergencies > Is it possible for only 1 pilot to fly a huge commercial aircraft?
Is it possible for only 1 pilot to fly a huge commercial aircraft?
Flying - Emergencies
Friday, 29 August 2014 15:16

Pilot Incapacitation Airbus A320-A340

Hi Capt Lim,

Is it possible for only 1 pilot to fly a huge commercial aircraft, for instance, in an emergency situation?

Albert

Hi Albert,

Yes, it is possible for only one pilot, either a captain or a first officer to safely land a huge commercial aircraft alone, especially during an emergency.

In fact, on the Airbus plane, it is a Memory Drill which every pilot must be well versed at any time. I have answered this question seven years ago here What happens when a pilot suffers a heart attack in the air?

You can see from the video above that there are steps to be taken by the Flight Attendant to secure the incapacitated pilot.

This memory drill is known as “Crew Incapacitation”. Incapacitation basically describes the inability of a crew member (Captain or First Officer) to carry out their normal duties due to some physiological reasons, such as a heart attack or food poisoning.

The healthy pilot is fully trained to control the plane safely but he would make every effort to seek assistance from any trained pilot travelling as a passenger to help out. Failing which, the Flight Attendant’s assistance would do, mainly to read the check list.

On a big long haul airliner like the A380 or B777, the 1 pilot problem is not  an issue as there are at least 4 pilots on board such flights.


Co-pilot lands jet in Omaha after pilot becomes ill

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