MIAMI – A British Airways (BA) A320neo was forced to make an emergency landing after one of the Pilots fell unconscious at the controls. The BA640 incident occurred on Saturday December 26 at Zurich Airport (ZRH) in Switzerland.

After his Co-Pilot passed out, the Captain of the BA A320neo Airbus flying from London to Athens made a landing in Zurich. According to the exclusive by UK’s Daily Mail, midway into the three-and-a-half-hour flight, the Co-Pilot had already complained of feeling unwell, prompting the Pilot to turn the plane around and return to London Heathrow (LHR).

The Captain then was forced to make an urgent landing in Switzerland so that he could be rushed to the hospital as the Co-Pilot’s condition¬†worsened. The First Officer was taken to Zurich hospital and was later released after a check-up. The BA A320 had to wait at ZHR for over five hours before continuing its flight to Athens, Greece.

British Airways Airbus A320neo. Photo: Miklos Budai/Airways

Turn of Events


As the plane flew over Zagreb in Croatia and just over an hour from Athens, the incident started when the Co-Pilot complained that he had fallen unwell. But instead of going to the Greek capital, the Captain opted to travel back to LHR, a two-and-a-half-hour flight.

A BA insider said, “The First Officer had initially complained about feeling sick, but passed out on his return to Heathrow. The Captain felt the situation was serious enough to divert rather than try to return to Heathrow.”

According to the Daily Mail, the incident on board BA640 has little to do with COVID-19 and there are no records in the cockpit of any harmful gases that are a common cause of sudden illness for Pilots. What caused the Pilot to pass out, BA would not say.

The BA spokesman added, “The welfare of our customers and crews is always a top priority and the flight has proceeded as scheduled to its destination.” Since 2019, BA chiefs have registered more than 300 toxic fumes incidents to cabin crew Pilots complaining of feeling sick.


Featured image: A British Airways Airbus A320neo. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways