787 Captain Collapses Mid-Flight, Dies Later


A LATAM Airlines flight from Miami to Santiago was diverted to Panama on Sunday after the captain died after becoming ill in a bathroom. Capt. Ivan Andaur collapsed about 40 minutes into the flight. There were two other pilots on the Boeing 787 and they took over. A nurse and two doctors who were passengers on the flight tried to save him and could not. The nurse reportedly said on social media that the aircraft “did not have the necessary or sufficient supplies to perform a good resuscitation.” 

The medics worked on the pilot until after the plane landed in Panama City and the aircraft was evacuated of other passengers. The airline said its staff and the medical personnel did their best to save the pilot. “All the necessary protocols were followed during the flight to safeguard the life of the affected pilot,” the airline said in a statement to the New York Post. “Unfortunately, after landing and receiving further medical assistance, the pilot passed away.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. How sad. This is a good argument for keeping the two-pilot cockpit, though. Pilot incapacitation or death inflight a rarity, granted. It happens though.
    Maybe someday we’ll have the technology to save an aircraft with no pilot, but we don’t yet.

    • Yes sad to lose any life. And yes 100% agree that two pilots are absolutely necessary. We spend millions of dollars on the aircraft with redundant systems, two engines, two or three hydraulic systems, backup generators or APUs. Systems fail and so do pilots even if it is not death. Two heads are better than one. And age doesn’t matter either. Young pilots have kidney stones, twisted bowel, heart attacks, food poisoning etc… Autopilots are workload reducers not pilot replacement. After 42 years as an airline pilot I still don’t trust the autopilot.

    • “Pilot incapacitation or death inflight a rarity, granted.” …So, this is what rare looks like?

      BREAKING NEWS: Another PILOT has died inflight!!

      Aug.16, 2023 – Quatar Airways QR579 (DEL-DOH) Delhi to Doha, Quatar diverted to Dubai as 51 year old senior pilot collapsed inflight and died!

      Aug.14, 2023 – LATAM Flight LA505 (MIA-SCL) pilot died

      Aug.9, 2023 – United Airlines UAL1309 (SRQ-EWR) pilot collapsed

      Aug.7, 2023 – TigerAIR Flight IT237 (CTS-TPE) pilot collapsed

      • I think it’s fair to say that paid pilots are generally exposed to higher stress levels, and at the same time it involves a lot of sitting. I have seen many pilots at airports that appeared physically unfit. As pilots we all need to make sure we stay healthier than the average – physically and mentally, not just to pass the next medical exam.

    • Emergency autoland technology without pilot is already available, see Garmin Autoland.
      That said, for all airline operations I think two pilots in the cockpit should always be standard minimum.

  2. Defibrillators not checked and with flat batteries? Or not there at all? They make a huge difference and I imagine that is what the reference to not having necessary supplies for a resuscitation was about.
    It is the one bit of cabin equipment crews should make a fuss about, more so than faulty microwaves…

    • Defibrillators are only good for V-fib and V-tach. The article doesn’t say if A) the plane did or did not have a defibrillator and B) the pilot was suffering from a cardiac arrhythmia. If he wasn’t, a defibrillator would help in the least.

      • I had a certicicate removing widow-maker (plugged left anterior descending artery) myocardial infarction, but I was in the best place possible for it to happen: in an emegency room at a regional hospital. 24 years later I “just” have PVCs and Afib. If all airlines don’t have a difibrillator, they should have. One wouldn’t have helped me then, but it WOULD help a lot of folks…including me, now.

  3. In general, the US Federal Aviation Authority has mandated that all commercial airlines operating within the US must have a defibrillator on board for passenger flights. American Airlines became the first US commercial airline to put defibrillators on its planes in 1997 and to train its flight attendants to use them. However, as AZ Flyer stated above, AED Defibrillators are only good for V-fib and V-tach which is not the same as a heart attack and would do no good if the captain was not experiencing an arrhythmia. (Ventricular fibrillation (VF) and pulseless ventricular
    Sad indeed, the loss of any life, under these circumstances. The FAA requires AEDs on all airplanes of U.S. air carriers operating under part 121 with a maximum payload capacity of more than 7,500 pounds and with at least one flight attendant. Affected airplanes typically would have a capacity of 30 passengers or more requiring at least one flight attendant is required. More can be read by reviewing AC AC 121-33B which supersedes AC 121-33A. At present, there is no requirement for non-US airlines to carry these devices, but many do anyway. According to APH, airlines with AEDs onboard include Air France, Aer Lingus, British Airways, ANA, Etihad, etc.

  4. So much for a Class III Medical being necessary for a Private Pilot License, the requirement for which has done more harm to General Aviation than any other factor (other than cost), by pushing Seniors out of GA. LSA Driver’s License Medical has proven, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the 3rd Class Medical is totally irrelevant for a PP to fly safely.

    • That’s a bit of an odd moment to promote lowering the medical standards for private pilots… and with BasicMed there already is a somewhat easier to achieve and maintain alternative to the class 3 medical certificate anyway.

      • Basic Med permits pilots with Class III Medicals to treat any new condition with their physician and self certify. It is of no use to the new pilot with no Class III Medical, who with any medical history, is tortured by the FAA. And nobody reaches the age of 50 without a medical history; ie those with the time and money to contribute to GA.

        • Barry-
          I completely agree with and support you in your stated position. Sven, please note the point that Barry is making: that any pilot who has not already held a Class III, BasicMed is not available. If an individual is medically qualified to hold a Driver’s License, the FAA should accept that as reasonable proof that the risk of medical failure in flight is remote.

          Opinions are like “rear-ends”, everyone has one. And we saw during the COVID crisis that the medical community was full of “professional opinions” of wide disparity. Whether we are talking about the cause of birth defects like autism or evaluating the mental health of an individual or trying to understand the causes of various forms of cancer, there may be consensus, but no absolutes based upon facts. And yet, this camp feels qualified to render a verdict on my ability to pilot an airplane based upon remote data like my age or weight or any number of other data points the have been “proven” without even examining me in person. While I support the idea that a 1st Class Medical Exam can eliminate persons with obvious health time bombs from being responsible for a cabin filled with 2-300 passengers, I fail to see any equivalency between that and the FAA’s position that if I cannot pass a Class III, I am a flying risk – even if I just fly alone in my own cockpit.

  5. Sadly pilot deaths are predictable due a confluence of factors and many more will occur. The airlines followed misguided government “officials” and mandated experimental covid shots. Now are we learning that heart issues are caused by the shots. These problems were discovered during testing but that information was censored and not made available to the public. The FAA reduced the requirements for the first class medical. Medical professionals think that altitude exacerbates these heart issues.