A co-pilot suddenly lost consciousness during an El Al flight to Venice on Thursday, forcing the captain to make an emergency landing in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
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El Al Flight 289 had taken off from Ben-Gurion International Airport before noon with 98 passengers on board. The co-pilot was treated on the plane by one of the passengers, a doctor.
El Al Chief Executive David Maimon ordered a special private plane crew to fly the passengers to Venice and bring the co-pilot back to Israel. Maimon spoke to the co-pilot, who was feeling better.
Maimon said the captain and the entire crew behaved calmly, helped take care of the co-pilot and ensured that the Boeing 737 landed safely.
Airline sources who spoke to Haaretz rejected the possibility that the co-pilot passed out due to fatigue. Just this week, El Al pilots went on a surprise slowdown seeking a new labor agreement. One of the issues was fatigue.
The sources said El Al pilots undergo medical examinations every six months. They said the co-pilot could have suffered a heart problem or an illness linked to something he ate before the flight.