Captain on Cathay Perth-Hong Kong flight incapacitated

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April 25, 2019
Cathay captains incapacitated
Image: Cathay Pacific.

The captain of a Cathay Pacific flight from Perth to Hong Kong became incapacitated after he felt out of breath and his vision became impaired.

A preliminary report by Hong Kong’s Air Accident Investigation Authority said a senior purser was assigned to assist on the flight deck and the first officer assumed command during the incident on February 21.

The Airbus A350 with 270 passengers and 13 crew was near Manila about 974km south of Hong Kong.

READ: Cathay buys low-cost carrier Hong Kong Express.

“The crew sought medical assistance from both a recognized medical professional on board who was a passenger in conjunction with medical advice from the company doctor in Hong Kong through the cockpit Satcom system,’’ the report said.

“The condition of the captain stabilized with the supply of medical oxygen. The captain remained conscious and in communication with FO (first officer) and the SP (senior purser) throughout the occurrence, although the Captain was officially designated as incapacitated.

“As the flight entered the Hong Kong Flight Information Region (FIR), the FO declared a PAN-PAN call to the Hong Kong Air Traffic Control (HKATC) requesting a priority approach due to the medical emergency and a lower flight level to decrease the cabin pressure altitude in order to assist with the Captain’s recovery.”

Air traffic control provided a shortened track and the aircraft landed safely.

It was the second time the captain of a Cathay flight was incapacitated in less than a month.

The previous incident involved a Boeing 777 flying from Sapporo in Japan to Hong Kong with 348 passengers and 16 crew on January 26.

In that case, the captain suddenly lost visual acuity and relinquished control but remained in the cockpit after pushing back his seat.

A senior purser was again assigned to assist the first officer in accordance with regulations and the aircraft landed safely after declaring a PAN-PAN.

Hong Kong investigators are treating both incidents as serious