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MD11, en-route, near Cape Ashizuri, Japan, 2007

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Summary
On 10 January 2007, a Transmile Air Services Boeing MD11F First Officer became suddenly incapacitated by seizure during a flight from Anchorage to Hong Kong. A diversion was made and the affected pilot hospitalised where the cause was identified as a previously non-symptomatic brain tumour.
Event Details
When January 2007
Actual or Potential
Event Type
Human Factors, Loss of Control
Day/Night Day
Flight Conditions VMC
Flight Details
Aircraft MCDONNELL DOUGLAS MD-11
Operator Transmile Air Services
Domicile Malaysia
Type of Flight Public Transport (Cargo)
Origin Anchorage
Intended Destination Hong Kong International Airport
Actual Destination Kansai International Airport
Take off Commenced Yes
Flight Airborne Yes
Flight Completed Yes
Flight Phase Cruise
ENR
Location En-Route
Origin Anchorage
Destination Hong Kong International Airport
Location
Approx. 30 km SW of Cape Ashizuri, Kochi Prefecture, Japan
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HF
Tag(s) Flight Crew Incapacitation
LOC
Tag(s) Crew Incapacitation"Crew Incapacitation" is not in the list (Airframe Structural Failure, Significant Systems or Systems Control Failure, Degraded flight instrument display, Uncommanded AP disconnect, AP Status Awareness, Non-normal FBW flight control status, Loss of Engine Power, Flight Management Error, Environmental Factors, Bird or Animal Strike, ...) of allowed values for the "LOC" property.
EPR
Tag(s) “Emergency” declaration
Outcome
Damage or injury No
Aircraft damage None"None" is not in the list (Minor, Major, Hull loss) of allowed values for the "Aircraft damage" property.
Injuries None"None" is not in the list (Few occupants, Many occupants, Most or all occupants) of allowed values for the "Injuries" property.
Fatalities None"None" is not in the list (Few occupants, Many occupants, Most or all occupants) of allowed values for the "Fatalities" property. ()
Causal Factor Group(s)
Group(s) Aircraft Operation
Safety Recommendation(s)
Group(s) None Made
Investigation Type
Type Independent

Description

On 10 January 2007, the PNF co pilot of a Transmile Air Services Boeing MD11F operating with a First Officer who was designated and operating as(Cruise Captain[1]) became suddenly incapacitated by seizure during a flight from Anchorage to Hong Kong. A diversion was made and the affected pilot hospitalised where the cause was identified as a previously non-symptomatic brain tumour. The incident occurred over the sea at 30 km16.199 nm
30,000 m
98,425.197 ft
southwest of Cape Ashizuri, Kochi Prefecture, Japan.

The Investigation

The official Report on the Serious Incident by the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) states:

"When the serious incident took place, Cruise Captain was at the left pilot seat as the Pilot Flying (PF) (crewmember primarily responsible for aircraft control), and SIC (Second in Command) was at the right pilot seat as the Pilot-Not-Flying (PNF) (crewmember primarily responsible for other than control)."

The Report includes the detailed statements of the flight crew, including the statement of Cruise Captain who points out that as the SIC become unconscious he extended his legs on the rudder pedals and the aircraft began yawing left and right. The SIC was later removed from the right seat and medical emergency was declared. The aircraft then diverted to Kansai International Airport, Japan.

Probable Cause

"It is estimated that this serious incident was caused, when the aircraft was cruising, the Second In Command (SIC) in duty of pilot flying became incapable of performing his duty normally by a loss of consciousness, which followed a sudden headache as a symptom of intra cranial hypertension.

Concerning that the appearance of these symptoms was not predicted, it is estimated to contribute the SIC did not have any subjective symptoms of brain tumors, and detecting brain tumors under current aviation medical examinations is difficult if no subjective or objective symptoms are observed."

Note by the SKYbrary editor

  1. ^ Cruise Captain in the report refers to a pilot certificated as cruise captain by the Malaysian Aviation Authority, and is qualified by the company to act as PIC during cruise only and who was engaged in the operation of the aircraft.

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