A pilot for Latam, the Chilean airline, died on Monday after suffering a health emergency on a flight from Miami to Santiago, Chile, that forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Panama, the airline said.
The pilot was part of a three-member crew aboard the flight from Miami International Airport to Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport in Santiago, Latam said in a statement on Wednesday. The airline, which is based in Santiago, did not disclose the pilot’s name or the nature of the health problem, but said it was “thankful for his 25 years of service” to the airline.
“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 company said, adding that the pilot was “distinguished by his dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm.”
According to FlightAware, a flight-data tracker, the Latam flight, which typically takes roughly eight hours, took off from Miami at 9:41 p.m. Three hours later, the plane, a Boeing 787, made a quick descent, dropping nearly 30,000 feet in 10 minutes before landing at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City.
The pilot died after receiving medical assistance upon landing, the airline said. Latam said it had followed “all the necessary protocols” during the flight to safeguard the pilot’s life.
In its statement, the airline apologized to its passengers for the delay and said that the flight resumed the next day, landing in Santiago at 4 a.m. on Wednesday.
It is rare for a pilot to die after experiencing a medical emergency during a flight. In 2015, an American Airlines jetliner carrying 147 passengers made an emergency landing in Syracuse, N.Y., after the pilot fell ill and died. In 2009, a Continental Airlines flight with 247 passengers landed safely in Newark after the 60-year-old captain died of a heart attack.