El Al Pilot Accidentally Takes Sleeping Pill During Flight

Pilot intended to take blood pressure medication eventually fell ill and had to leave cockpit.

An El Al pilot took a sleeping pill by mistake about two weeks ago on a flight from Kiev, Ukraine. The pill eventually made him ill, forcing him to leave the cockpit during the flight.

The plane, a Boeing 737 with about 100 passengers on board, flew on under the sole command of the co-pilot. The details of the incident, which surfaced through an internal El Al investigation, were obtained by Haaretz.

The findings of the investigation reveal that the pilot mistakenly took a sleeping pill instead of the blood pressure medication he meant to take. During the course of the flight, the pilot's senses were dulled and he became disoriented and began to fall asleep. A flight attendant came to his assistance and removed him from the cockpit until he recovered.

El Al Airlines said in response: "The [co-pilot] acted according to procedure in such cases and allowed the captain to leave the cockpit and recover. After a short time, the pilot recovered, returned to his place and continued with the flight. At no point during the flight were the passengers or the plane endangered."

An aviation physician who asked not to be identified, said in principle there is no problem with pilots taking blood pressure medication and flying an aircraft.