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American Airlines co-pilot dies during landing in New Mexico

American Airlines, Credit: From American Airlines

An American Airlines first officer died Wednesday after becoming incapacitated during the last phases of landing at Albuquerque, New Mexico.

American Airlines Flight 1353, a Boeing 737-800 flying from Dallas-Fort Worth to Albuquerque, was 2 miles from landing when the captain declared an emergency, citing “a medical issue” aboard, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

American identified the first officer aboard flight 1353 as William “Mike” Grubbs.

The aircraft landed safely at 3:33 p.m., according to Flightaware, and taxied to the gate, where it was met by paramedics, said Daniel Jiron, spokesman for Albuquerque International Sunport. Two people familiar with the incident said CPR was performed for 35 to 40 minutes before the first officer was pronounced dead.

The airline said in a statement that it “is deeply saddened” by Grubbs’ passing. “We are taking care of First Officer Grubbs’ family and colleagues, and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”

The FAA said it “will follow up with the airline” to learn more about Wednesday’s incident.

Many of the tasks during final approach in a Boeing 737 can be handled safely by a single crew member, but it would significantly increase the stress and workload for the captain.

Incapacitation of a member of the flight crew is extremely rare. A 57-year-old American Airlines captain died in October 2015 after falling ill during a flight between Phoenix and Boston. That flight landed safely after being diverted to Syracuse, New York.