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Emirates trainee pilot blacks out during flight

Cadet fell asleep on solo flight, awoke 250km off Australian coast.
NEWS, Aviation

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A trainee Emirates Airline pilot passed out at the controls of an aircraft and was unconscious for 55 minutes while on a solo training flight near the Australian city of Adelaide.

A report by Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau (TSB) said the young Middle Eastern pilot blacked out at the controls, waking after 55 minutes to find the single-engine light aircraft had overshot the airport and had headed 250km out to sea.

The unnamed pilot, who was on a year-long Emirates Airlines scholarship at the Flight Training Adelaide institute, was flying solo and no passengers were onboard.

According to the TSB report, the pilot reported feeling hot and sweaty and climbed the aircraft to 1,980m in order to cool the cabin.

Air traffic control at Parafield Airport attempted to contact the pilot by radio but the calls went unanswered.

The plane, which only had enough fuel onboard for an additional 60 minutes, proceeded to fly itself out into open water until the pilot regained consciousness.

"The plane would have kept going until it ran out of fuel if he hadn't regained consciousness," bureau spokesman Dan O'Malley told Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper.

According to media reports in Australia, the pilot, who is in his 20s, has had his flying licence suspended following the incident.

“As the medical aspects of this case are currently under investigation, Emirates is unable to make any comment,” a spokesperson for the Dubai-based flag carrier said.

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