Pilot Dies in Bathroom of Boeing 787 after Takeoff from Miami, Forcing Emergency Landing in Panama

A passenger recounted that approximately 40 minutes after takeoff, one of the co-pilots inquired if there were any doctors on the aircraft.

A pilot onboard a Boeing 787 flight collapsed and died in the bathroom during a commercial flight from Miami to Chile, prompting an emergency landing in Panama on Sunday night, according to multiple sources aboard the aircraft. Iván Andaur, 56, was the pilot in command of a LATAM Airlines flight destined for Santiago.

Around 11 p.m., Andaur suffered what appears to be a cardiac arrest, as reported by the Sun. His two co-pilots were forced to perform an emergency landing at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. During the emergency, a nurse and two doctors who happened to be on board rushed to provide medical assistance in an attempt to save him, according to the report.

Midair Tragedy

Ivan Andaur
Ivan Andaur Twitter

However, Andaur couldn't be saved. "Unfortunately, we did not have the necessary or sufficient supplies to perform a good resuscitation," said the nurse, who was identified only as Isadora on social media.

"LATAM needs to improve the issue of protocol in case of health and medical emergencies like this where lives can be saved but the resources are needed."

The nature of the "resources" she was referring to was not immediately clear.

A passenger recounted that approximately 40 minutes after takeoff, one of the co-pilots inquired if there were any doctors on the aircraft.

Andaur probably was feeling unwell at that time only. "They told us that we were going to land because the pilot felt sick and when we arrived they asked us to evacuate the plane because the situation had worsened," said the passenger, who was not identified.

Danger Avoided

Ivan Andaur
Ivan Andaur Twitter

Andaur did midair but the passengers were not told about his death till the flight safely landed in Panama. Passengers were accommodated in hotels in Panama City, and the flight resumed its journey on the following Tuesday.

"All the necessary protocols were followed during the flight to safeguard the life of the affected pilot. Unfortunately, after landing and receiving further medical assistance, the pilot passed away," the airline said in a statement.

"LATAM Group is deeply saddened by this event and takes this opportunity to express our most sincere condolences to the family of our employee."

In March, a Southwest Airlines flight encountered a similar incident where it had to turn back to Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. The reason was that one of the pilots became unwell shortly after taking off on a route to Columbus, Ohio.

Remarkably, an off-duty pilot from a different airline happened to be a passenger on the flight. He helped by handling radio communications as the aircraft returned to Las Vegas.

In the United States, airline pilots are required to hold a medical certificate that needs to be renewed on a yearly basis for anyone below the age of 40. For those who are 40 years or older, the certificate renewal is required every six months.