LATAM Airlines Pilot Dies Mid Flight From ‘Medical Emergency’

(Photo by NORBERTO DUARTE/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
1:23 PM – Thursday, August 17, 2023

A pilot collapsed and died in the bathroom during a commercial flight from Miami to Chile, prompting an emergency landing in Panama late on Sunday night, according to passengers aboard the plane who spoke to the press.


Iván Andaur, 56, was at the helm of the Santiago-bound LATAM Airlines flight around 11:00 p.m. when he suffered what was reported as a cardiac arrest.

His two co-pilots were forced to make an emergency landing at Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport, as a nurse and two doctors on board rushed to save him, according to the report.

“Unfortunately, we did not have the necessary or sufficient supplies to perform a good resuscitation,” the nurse, identified as “Isadora” said 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.”

It was unclear what she meant by “resources.”

About 40 minutes after takeoff, the co-pilot abruptly asked if there were any doctors on board, according to one passenger.

“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 unnamed passenger.

The flight’s passengers were booked into hotels in Panama City, and the plane took off again on Tuesday. It was not reported whether passengers were reimbursed for the delay.

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

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) loosened its medical certification guidelines for pilots with heart block, also known as AV block, in October 2022. They claim that this decision was based on recommendations from the FAA’s cardiology consultants.

“The FAA’s updated criteria for widening the ECG parameters regarding AV Block are reasonable and consistent with ACC guideline recommendations,” said Dr. Richard Kovacs, chief medical officer at the American College of Cardiology. “For reference, in healthy athletes a PR interval <400 msec is considered normal. So, the 300 msec cutoff may be considered conservative in many healthy people.”

“The FAA has no evidence of aircraft accidents or incapacitations caused by pilots suffering medical complications associated with COVID-19 vaccines,” the agency also stated.

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