Boston-bound airline pilot dies; co-pilot lands safely

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) – Officials say an American Airlines pilot became gravely ill while flying from Phoenix to Boston and later died, but his first officer took over and safely landed the plane in Syracuse.

American spokeswoman Andrea Huguely says Flight 550 left Phoenix at 11:55 p.m. local time Sunday and was diverted mid-flight, landing shortly after 7 a.m. EDT on Monday.

The 147 passengers were told the pilot was sick and the flight was making an emergency landing in Syracuse. They later learned of his death.

The pilot was identified as 57-year-old Capt. Michael Johnston.

American Airlines Group Chairman and CEO Doug Parker says the crew “took extraordinary care” of Johnston, each other and the airline’s customers during “an extremely difficult time.”

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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