Air Canada pilot has nervous breakdown during flight...


Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Air Canada co-pilot who fell ill in the cockpit during a flight from Toronto to London has been admitted to an Irish hospital for psychiatric care, according to a report from the Irish Independent.

The pilot of Flight 848 was forced to make an emergency landing in Shannon, Ireland, at about 8 a.m. local time Monday after his co-pilot suffered what appeared to be a nervous breakdown, the report said.

“We were told that there was to be an emergency landing due to a crew person taking ill,” Shannon Airport Authority spokesman Eugene Pratt said Tuesday.

Mr. Pratt said the airport did not dispatch any emergency crews to treat the 149 passengers on board but paramedics and a doctor were called in for the co-pilot. He did not disclose the identity of the co-pilot and would not confirm where he had been taken for treatment.

The passengers, however, were transferred to a local hotel to wait for another crew to arrive prior to boarding another flight to London.

Mr. Pratt added that Shannon, which is about 200 kilometres east of Dublin, often sees emergency landings due to its geographical location.

“If you look at where we’re located, and considering the amount of aviation that comes over the Atlantic, there are times that a warning light comes on or a heart attack happens on board and planes have to make an emergency landing,” he said. “Very often, it’s Shannon. It’s not an infrequent occurrence.”

The original flight left Toronto’s Pearson International Airport just after 8 p.m. Sunday.

The passengers finally arrived at their destination, London’s Heathrow Airport, around 4 p.m. local time, about eight hours behind schedule, Mr. Pratt said.

An Air Canada spokesman could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.


Reminds me of the JAL Captain that crashed his DC-8 into Tokyo Bay, after a stay at a Mental Health Hospital. At the time JAL was unaware of his Mental Health issues.

Due to this accident, background checks on health issues are now a common process of the hiring phase.

JAL crash at Tokyo-Bay


Co-pilot shackled to seat after outburst

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

January 29, 2008 at 10:38 PM EST

Yelling, crying and invoking God, the co-pilot of an Air Canada flight from Toronto to London had to be forcibly removed from the cockpit of his jetliner after suffering an emotional collapse as the plane flew over the Atlantic.

Shackled by the wrists and ankles, the shoeless first officer had to be restrained by crew members with the help of a traveller who was a member of the Canadian Forces.

Left alone in the cockpit, the captain cut short the journey of Flight AC 848 by diverting to Ireland’s Shannon airport.

Meanwhile, the first officer was crying and screaming as he was cuffed on a free seat, said a Toronto-area man whose wife was sitting nearby.

It was a bit of a traumatic experience for the woman, who was travelling with a toddler, her husband said last night.

The co-pilot was taken by ambulance to a psychiatric ward after the plane and its 146 passengers landed on Monday morning.

At no time was safety compromised, Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said.

It was the second time an Air Canada flight ended prematurely in recent days. This month, a jetliner carrying 83 passengers from Victoria to Toronto made an emergency landing in Calgary after turbulence threw it out of control.

It was also a reminder of the 1999 EgyptAir flight that plunged into the Atlantic. Black-box recordings raised speculations that the crash occurred because co-pilot Gameel Al-Batouti was suicidal.

Pilots don’t automatically undergo psychiatric assessments when they have their medical checkups, a federal official said yesterday.

The doctors who do the checkups are general practitioners approved by Transport Canada, said Transport Canada spokeswoman Lucie Vignola.

A psychiatric evaluation is not done unless the GP decides a pilot needs to see a specialist, she said.

Commercial pilots undergo medical checkups every year, every six months if they are over 40, said Captain Andy Wilson, president of the Air Canada Pilots Association.

At Air Canada, pilots are checked by company doctors, he said.

After his co-pilot’s removal, regulations would have required the captain to don his oxygen mask and land at the nearest suitable aerodrome, said Yvan-Miville Deschnes, a former flight controller.

It’s standard procedure. When there’s only one person left in the cockpit, he puts on an oxygen mask in case the cabin depressurizes, he said. Continuing to London would have been a security breach.

Passenger Sean Finucane told CBC News that the co-pilot, who said he just wanted to talk to God, was yelling loudly but didn’t sound intoxicated.

When they tried to put his shoes on later, for example, he swore and threatened people. He was swearing and asking for God, and was very, very distressed.

His account matched those in the Irish Independent and in the online forum

The Independent said the co-pilot, who was acting in a peculiar manner and was talking loudly to himself, was held down by the crew and by a member of the Canadian Forces.

It was quite an experience! He was being restrained in 12A and the entire mini-cabin could hear the whole thing. Not for delicate ears, a writer posted on

The soldier and the doctors [who were passengers] were great.

The writer added that the flight crew was calm and professional throughout. The pilots’ union also commended the crew for its handling of the incident.

AC 848 was supposed to land around 8:25 a.m. at London’s Heathrow Airport. However, an hour before arrival, controllers at Shannon Airport were told the flight was diverted because of illness with a crew member, said spokesman Eugene Pratt.

An employee at Ennis General Hospital, near Shannon, said the crew member was taken to the acute psychiatric care unit.

Passengers were given 15 euros for food but were kept at the airport, said the man whose spouse sat near the cuffed co-pilot.

My wife was stranded there with a baby. They wouldn’t even allow her to take the stroller off the plane.

In the afternoon, a crew from London picked up the passengers, who arrived at Heathrow eight hours late.


Just speculation on my part, but it sounds like he was under the influence of a powerful psychodelic. I can’t imagine a professional pilot intentionally taking such a drug before a flight (career suicide). Perhaps accidentally ingested, or maybe he was on call and rolling the dice, betting on not being called-up…?

Sad, but no matter WHAT brought on the condition, he won’t be flying for any airlines again.


Yeah, sounded like that to me too. Who knows maybe someone dosed him without his knowledge, that would freak out anyone, 'cept an ole hippie. If so, good thing both pilots didn’t droid out…that could have been messy :open_mouth:


As much as Pilots are shuttled about, must be bad luck that there wasn’t an off-duty pilot on board. It’s only 7.25 hour trip over but the 8.5 hour trip back would require a relief pilot.

Doesn’t sound like fun having your FO freak out, have to fight/restrain them, and then you get to land the thing on your own.



There’s an old saying in medicine: when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras. While it is possible that he took (or was given) a psychedelic drug, that is not the most likely explanation in my opinion (no data, just working from probabilities). Such drugs are fast acting and pilots are at the airport a long time before a transatlantic flight. His strange behavior would have been noticed long before engine start unless he took such a drug after takeoff. More likely is either a reaction to a over the counter or prescription medication or a good old fashioned “nervous breakdown” from some combination of stress, altitude and fatigue. You’ve heard of it passengers losing it (remember the guy defecating on the service cart on a flight?), some thing here is the more likely possibility.


At no time was safety compromised, Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur said.

Except for the part of the flight where a raving lunatic with access to and knowledge of the flight controls was in the cockpit and wished to meet God.


Well ya, there’s that. And I’m sure at some point the pilot was out of his seat too; pulling his “crazy” partner from the cockpit (sorry flight deck, but it was 2 guys) with the help of someone. I doubt just one person would have been able to pull a kicking, screaming, mad man from his seat.


They didn’t identify which God. Was it God, Jesus or Allah? Remember Egypt Air?


AND… with all that going on, just who was flying the plane?

Yeah, autopilot isn’t PIC, though this really may have been the exception instead of the rule during those few minutes.




LSD can take up to 2 hours to take effect and often produces intense spiritual experiences. Though I cannot find any specific reference to it at this time, I believe frequent and wild mood swings can occur while under the influence as well. The story’s reference to the guy “yelling, crying and invoking God” makes me think this is one of them really “far-out” horses, man!


Remind anybody of FedEx 705? Although that was a (newly) former employee that they were ferrying home, I’ll bet FDX sends them home commercial now…


Cockpit access to aircraft is limited by the Cockpit Access Security System. While, pre-9/11, just about any airline employee could jumpseat, now it is usually limited to flight crew, off-duty pilots of the airline or other airlines, and dispatchers.

FDX705 happened in 1994 and I wouldn’t be surprised, as EatSleepJeep says, they sent ex-employees home via another means.

EDIT: Also allowed are the usual suspects: Secret Service, NTSB employees, and other government officials. I would guess that these people have to be on official duty in order to ride up front.


Yes, FedEx DC-10 N306FE though that was an unsuccessful but close, murder/suicide plot for insurance. There is an intense 1 hour episode of the TV Show Mayday on this incident. (all 4 survived, all severely injured from attacks)

There was the sadly succesful murder/suicide of PSA Bae 146 N350PS, when a disgruntled US Air ex-employee, killed a passenger, the two pilots, himself, and in the ensuing crash, all the passengers. (all 43 on board-fatal)

The Silk Air B737-300 9V-TRF and EgyptAir B767 SU-GAP both believed to be suicides by American Investigators. (Silk Air all 104 and EygptAir all 217 fatal)

Royal Air Maroc ATR-42 CN-CDT that the pilot disconnected the autopilot ten minutes into the flight, and dove straight into the ground, a reported suicide, again taking all the passengers with him. (all 44 fatal)

And of course the Japan Airlines DC-8-61 JA8061 into Tokyo Bay after the Captain went NUTS!!! (24 fatal, of 174 onboard, pilots survived)


Co-pilot `not in control of his senses

Man restrained by crew, taken off plane by police

Jan 30, 2008 04:30 AM
dale anne freed
noor javed
staff reporters

The co-pilot’s eyes were closed and his hands and feet were bound as he was escorted off Air Canada Flight 848 at Shannon International Airport by two Irish police officers.

“It’s okay. You can text me. You can email me,” the disoriented man mumbled to no one in particular as he was taken off the plane, passenger Chris Robson recalled in an interview with the Star last night.

The co-pilot’s head was tilted toward the ceiling and his shirttail hung out from under a khaki sweater.

Air Canada confirmed the co-pilot of a flight from Pearson airport to London was admitted to an Irish hospital after becoming ill in the cockpit on Monday.

“The co-pilot fell ill during the flight and the captain elected to divert to Shannon,” Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said yesterday. “The aircraft landed without incident. At no time were the safety of the passengers or crew in question.”

But Fitzpatrick would not confirm a report by the Irish Independent newspaper that the co-pilot suffered a nervous breakdown and is undergoing psychiatric care after being forcibly removed from the flight.

It all happened quickly.

About five and half hours into the flight, Robson awoke to the sound of many footsteps hurrying to the front of the plane. It was about 2 a.m. Monday, Toronto time.

“Look, we’ve got a really serious medical emergency on board,” a concerned flight attendant told him as he walked to the front of the plane and was told to use the facilities at the back of the plane.

There was a call for a medical person from among the passengers. “We have a medical emergency, the flight services director called out on the plane,” recalled Robson, a global training adviser for Imperial, who was in sitting in the centre row of business class about 4 metres from the co-pilot as he was restrained by the crew on the floor outside the galley.

“He was clearly someone not in control of his senses,” said Robson.

The captain came on and said the flight was being diverted to Shannon Airport.

“I saw the crew all around a man on the floor outside the galley (just behind the cockpit). It appeared they were restraining him,” said Robson. “He was looking around. He was swearing and yelling.”

Others on board said they heard the co-pilot say “he wanted to talk to God … that the plane was low on fuel,” recalled Robson.

Shortly after the plane landed, Robson recalled, “The aisles were full of officials.”

At one point, three members of the Shannon Airport police, five members of the Irish Garda and two paramedics had come on board to investigate the disturbance before the co-pilot was escorted off the plane.

Passengers disembarked and waited about seven hours before another flight crew arrived from Heathrow to fly them to London on the same plane, said Robson.

During that time, business class patrons were given 20 euros for food and economy class members were given 15 euros, he said.

Robson, who is constantly taking international business flights, said the incident would not deter him from flying Air Canada again. “Absolutely. They were gracious and sensitive. At no point were we scared,” he said.

However, Robson did think it curious there was no mention of compensation for the inconvenience and delay passengers suffered.

Other passengers on the flight say they were stunned when they found out the “disruptive” man on board was actually the co-pilot of the plane.

“I heard him swearing and yelling,” said Jessica Schneider, who was travelling with her 9-month-old daughter. "I thought it was a passenger, I had no idea that it was a co-pilot.

"We didn’t know what was going on, " she said, adding she only found out the man had been the co-pilot after talking to family members in Toronto.

Schneider was one of 136 passengers on Air Canada Flight 848 that was forced to make an emergency landing in Shannon after the co-pilot became ill on board.

Passengers were first alerted to the emergency when an announcement was made asking for help from a doctor or nurse halfway through the seven-hour flight.

Less than an hour from landing, the man was moved into a seat in the first row of the economy class section, said Schneider, who was sitting a number of rows behind the man. “I could definitely hear him, and he was yelling at people trying to help him as well.”

“Our member was taken to hospital, where he is being treated,” said Capt. Andy Wilson, president of the Air Canada Pilots Association, in a news release.

A report by the Irish Independent newspaper said the co-pilot needed psychiatric care.

When paramedics came to take him off the plane, Schneider said the man appeared to be resistant and was swearing. “He wasn’t co-operating with them, he didn’t want to go with them.”

He was eventually taken off the plane on a stretcher, she said.

A source at Mid West Region Hospital, in the town of Ennis just north of Shannon, confirmed last night that the co-pilot had been admitted and was in the acute unit at the hospital.

Other than the inconvenience of having to stop over at a small airport for seven hours, Schneider said none of the passengers appeared to be too worried by the outburst or the incident.

“They never told us the nature of the problem,” she said. "Which is probably a good thing, since people don’t really like to hear that their pilot has gone crazy.

“I am just glad that it ended well. … It’s scary to think what could have happened.”

Chagnon Denis, a spokesperson with the International Civil Aviation Organization, said that even though the incident took place outside Canadian airspace, an investigation would take place by the airline and Canadian authorities. Transport Canada spokesperson Lucie Vignola said the agency will be interviewing the flight crew and the airline, but said it appeared that proper procedures were followed.

Fitzpatrick said Air Canada would do an internal evaluation to “see what could be learned from the incident.”


Blanket statement even with your edited comment… Care to provide sources or get more specific.

I have something different…



If you have something different, then prove it!

I know of what I talk about. I’ll even give you a hint: Google. Use CASS TSA JUMPSEAT

Believe it or not, Allen, some people can be a source without having to proof it. While you are busy Monday Night piloting others, why don’t you look this up yourself!

This is getting stupid! I am so frigging tired of you knocking everything I say. I know what I wrote is correct. Go ahead and disprove me, you piece of--------

Edited out - no need to bring that stuff down to Allen’s level.


As stated VERY NICELY,** I have something different. I was nicely trying to give you a chance to provide what you base your opinion on. You made a blanket statement which by itself is incorrect. is my source.

Take note of the word participating. Unless you have something different, then to blanketly say all part 121 ops use CESS is incorrect



Listen to me very carefully. You said you don’t nitpick yet here you are nitpicking. I did not go into the details of the program. I was giving general information.

Yes, I know the details of the CASS program. I know that it is limited to participating airlines. I know you are a frigging control freak who must be right in everything and most others are wrong. I also know the participating airlines don’t have to be Part 121 but can be Part 135 operators.

And, because your wouldn’t believe your fingers are at the end of your hand without proof, here’s my proof: … l-lcc.html