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Southwest flight returns to Las Vegas after pilot falls ill, FAA says

Updated March 23, 2023 - 7:26 pm

A Southwest Airlines flight leaving Las Vegas on Wednesday morning was forced to turn back after a pilot fell ill, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Flight 6013 landed without incident at Harry Reid International Airport around 8 a.m. after one of the pilots became ill following departure.

Southwest said in a statement that a credentialed pilot from another airline, who was on board, entered the flight deck and assisted with radio communication while a Southwest pilot flew the aircraft.

“We greatly appreciate their support and assistance,” the company said.

Southwest, citing medical privacy, would not provide further details about why the pilot required medical attention.

The FAA said the plane was heading to John Glenn Columbus International Airport in Ohio.

“The FAA has strict medical requirements for airline pilots so it’s rare for them to experience medical issues during flight,” the agency said in a statement. “The FAA has long required flight crews to be trained on how to respond if a pilot becomes unable to perform his or her duties.”

According to the flight tracking website FlightAware, the plane began turning back toward Las Vegas about 30 minutes into the flight.

Southwest said that an alternate flight crew subsequently operated the flight back to Columbus.

“All Southwest pilots are trained to fly as single pilots for situations such as this one and our pilot exhibited exceptional airmanship while in control of the aircraft,” the airline said in a statement.

The FAA said it will investigate the incident.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.

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