The flydubai flight landed in Dubai eleven hours late after a replacement crew was flown to Shiraz, Iran.
A flydubai Boeing 737-800 was forced to divert to Shiraz, Iran after the captain fell unconscious. The 1st officer of the flight, operating from Tashkent to Dubai, announced an emergency and diverted to the nearest airport.
After a ten-hour wait on the ground, passengers made it to Tashkent an hour later with a replacement crew. According to Harald, flydubai flight FZ1942 was on its way from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to Dubai International Airport (DXB), a 3-and-a-half-hour journey flown by the 737-800.
Last Thursday, the flight left Tashkent at 04:36 AM, scheduled for 06:50 AM coming in DXB. However, the aircraft made an unexpected stop along the way: an emergency landing.
Shiraz International Airport
2 hours and 30 minutes in, the 737 made an emergency landing in Shiraz, Iran (SYZ), not for technical problems, but because the captain suddenly fell unconscious. While details on what happened to the pilot remain private, we know that the 1st officer quickly took management of the aircraft and contacted air traffic control (ATC) in SYZ. The 737 was granted approval to land at the Iranian airport and did so safely 50 minutes later, at 06:07 AM local time.
Upon landing, passengers had to wait for ten hours as flydubai deployed a new flight crew to take over from the ill captain and all other crew members, who had reached their operating limits. FZ1942 took off from SYZ at 16:14 local time and landed safely in Dubai at 17:45, 11 hours behind schedule.
While modern aircraft are designed for 2 pilots in the cockpit, only one is in control of flight systems at a given time, with the other providing important support functions. With 2 fully-trained pilots at the helm, each of them is more than capable of flying the 737-800 alone, which is exactly what happened on FZ-1942.
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However, procedures need that pilots divert to the closest airport in case either crew member is seriously ill and unable to fly anymore. This is to confirm that any emergencies later in the flight do not require to be dealt with by only one pilot and maintain passenger safety.
Onboard FZ-1942 on Thursday was a 19-year-old Israeli soldier returning from a holiday in Uzbekistan, according to JPost. Given the political situation between Iran and Israel, her presence in Shiraz could have led to problems, and the government was keenly following the situation. Thankfully, all passengers were safely able to leave on the same flight after spending some time in the terminal area.
The flight diverted to SYZ due to engine problems and was unable to leave until over 2 years later due to sanctions, export controls, and the grounding of the MAX. Meanwhile, passengers needed to clear immigration in Iran and spend a night in the hotel, raising another set of problems.
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