Hong Kong’s aviation incident authority disclosed on Tuesday, that two Cathay Pacific Airways captains have both suffered loss of eyesight on separate flights earlier in the year, forcing their co-pilots to take command of their plan and issue desperate calls to air traffic control before landing safely.
According to a preliminary report by the Air Accident Investigation Authority, on one occasion, a captain was flying from Perth, Australia, to Hong Kong on flight CX170 on Feb 21 when he had turned to his first officer, the co-pilot, as said that it was hard for him to breath and that his vision was impaired, before saying that he was incapacitated.
At the time, the Airbus A350 carrying 270 passengers and 13 crew members had been flying over Manila at 6 am when the first officer had to take command of the aircraft.
The captain’s condition later stabilized after he was given oxygen. Reports say that the captain had remained conscious and in communication with the first officer.
Along with a doctor in Hong Kong, the crew had also found help from a passenger who was in the medical profession.
As the aircraft began to approach Hong Kong, the first officer made a Pan-Pan call to the local air traffic control to request a priority approach.
It had been requested to fly at a lower altitude in order to decrease cabin pressure in order to help with the captain’s recovery.
Pan-Pan is the international call signal to declare that there is an urgent situation on board a plane or vessel but that it does not pose an immediate danger to life or to the vehicle.
Quite scary to think of what goes on behind the scenes..