American Airlines First Officer Dies; Captain Declares Emergency During Landing in New Mexico

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An American Airlines plane is shown being towed from its gate during festivities inaugurating nonstop service to Shanghai at LAX on April 5, 2011. (Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

An American Airlines first officer died Wednesday after becoming incapacitated during the last phases of landing at Albuquerque, New Mexico, two people familiar with the situation said.

American Airlines Flight 1353, a Boeing 737-800 flying from Dallas-Fort Worth to Albuquerque, was 2 miles from landing when the captain declared an emergency, citing “a medical issue” aboard, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

The aircraft landed safely and taxied to the gate, where it was met by paramedics. The people familiar with the incident said CPR was performed for 35 to 40 minutes before the first officer was pronounced dead.

American did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The FAA said it “will follow up with the airline” to learn more about Wednesday’s incident.

Many of the tasks during final approach in a Boeing 737 can be handled safely by a single crew member, but it would significantly increase the stress and workload for the captain.