American Airlines pilot William “Mike” Grubbs died during a flight from Dallas-Forth Worth to Albuquerque.


Grubbs, 58, passed out on the last leg of the short flight. No exact time or cause of death have been released, but it is believed the pilot died prior to landing. The Boeing 737 carried 136 passengers and six crew members, and was landed successfully by the co-pilot. An audio exchange between the pilot and air traffic controller was recorded:

“Tower, American 1353, we’ve got an issue with one of the pilots, I’ve declared an emergency, I’d like to have the emergency crew on landing.” Grubbs joined the airline in 2010.

“We are deeply saddened over the loss of one of our American Airlines family. Despite heroic efforts to revive him, Mike passed away,” said American Airlines CEO Doug Parker in a statement. “Our hearts are with Mike’s wife, Helen, and their entire family. They lost a husband and a father and many of our colleagues lost a personal friend. Our team is fully focused on taking care of Mike’s family at this time. Please join us in keeping Mike’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”

According to records, at least seven commercial pilots have died during flight in the past 23 years. The most recent before Grubbs occurred in Oct. 2015. Commercial airline pilots under 40 are required to undergo physical exams once a year, and those over 40, every six months.

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