A Continental Airlines flight from Brussels has landed safely at Newark Liberty International Airport after the plane’s captain died mid-flight Thursday morning, CBS 2 has learned.
Federal Aviation Administration officials say Continental Flight 61, a Boeing 777 with 247 passengers on board, landed at Newark at 11:49 a.m. Newark was the flight’s final destination. The plane departed Brussels at 9:45 a.m., and the captain died about three to four hours into the flight. A doctor on board pronounced the pilot dead.
Continental officials tell CBS 2 the 61-year-old pilot died of natural causes. His identity has not yet been released, but officials say he worked for the company for 21 years and was based out of Newark.
“The company has been in touch with his family and we extend our deepest sympathies,” the airline said in a statement. “The crew on this flight included an additional relief pilot who took the place of the deceased pilot. The flight continued safely with two pilots at the controls.”
Officials say in addition to the two first officers on flight there was a reserve crew as well.
“In this particular case, it was an overseas flight, so because of the length there is usually a second first officer,” aviation expert Al Yurman told CBS 2.
The captain’s body was removed from the cockpit and placed in the crew rest area during the flight.
Numerous emergency medical service units were on the scene at Newark and followed the plane on the tarmac after it landed.
The Boeing 777 is the world’s largest twinjet and can carry nearly 400 passengers on it.