According to the Daily Mail after the plane’s co-pilot was felled by a migraine, the cabin crew asked if passengers if there was perhaps a pilot among them. Thankfully, one passenger, a pilot for North American Airlines, was ready to fill in and help fly the Boeing 747.
The fill-in helped the captain safely land the plane at Dublin Airport, where it had been diverted after the co-pilot fell ill. Upon landing, the co-pilot was hospitalized and the flight went on to its destination with a replacement crew.
Lufthansa, trying to allay passenger concerns, says that while it appreciates the passenger/pilot’s assistance, the plane’s captain could have landed the jumbo jet alone if there hadn’t been another pilot on the plane.
“In such circumstances it’s absolutely normal procedure for the pilot, the flight captain, to continue to operate the aircraft,” said an airline spokeswoman. “Also, where necessary, the cabin crew are fully trained and can be called upon to read checklists back to the pilot. The procedures are in place for such an eventuality. But the efforts of the off-duty pilot were certainly appreciated.”
If only the rest of us had back-ups sitting nearby when we needed them.