By Pete Muntean, CNN
An off-duty pilot who was a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight stepped in to help the flight crew after one of the on-duty pilots had a medical emergency mid-flight.
The incident began not long after Flight 6013 to Columbus, Ohio, took off from Las Vegas Wednesday, Southwest Airlines said. One of the pilots “needed medical attention,” the airline said.
“A credentialed Pilot from another airline, who was on board, entered the Flight Deck and assisted with radio communication while our Southwest Pilot flew the aircraft,” said airline spokesperson Chris Perry. “We greatly appreciate their support and assistance.”
A nurse who was also on board helped care for the pilot, the airline said, without releasing further details on the pilot’s condition.
“The captain became incapacitated while enroute. He’s in the back of the aircraft right now with a flight attendant, but we need to get him on an ambulance immediately,” a member of the flight crew is heard saying in air traffic control audio from LiveATC.net.
“It’s standard procedure for our Flight Crews to request assistance from traveling medical personnel during in-flight medical events involving Customers, this situation just so happened to involve one of our Employees,” the airline said.
Data from the flight tracking site FlightAware.com shows the plane was in the air for about 1 hour and 17 minutes. After safety returning to Las Vegas, a backup crew boarded and the flight continued to Columbus as planned, the airline said.
The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident, it said.
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CNN’s Brian Rokus contributed to this report.