A British Airways Airbus A321 was forced to make an emergency landing after both pilots almost “passed out” at the controls.
The aircraft’s Captain and first officer both reported feeling light headed as the jet, which had taken off from Heathrow, was climbing at 20,000 feet.
Aircraft passengers heard a “panicked” captain call for a senior member of the cabin crew to come to their aid.
The captain and the first officer were then supplied with oxygen masks as they continued the stricken flight and requested an emergency return to Heathrow.
Fortunately the plane landed safely but when paramedics arrived the pilots both said they had felt as though they were about to pass out.
The incident, which is now being investigated by the Air Accident Investigation Branch, was also reported by a passenger on the flight on a professional pilots website.
The passenger described how the captain of the flight, from London to Glasgow last month, sounded panicked and how cabin attendants looked worried at the turn of events.
“I was on the London to Glasgow flight yesterday, departed Heathrow at 4 pm-ish got airborne, at approx 20 mins into flight a very abrupt and panicked message came over the PA from the pilot,” the passenger wrote.
The man goes on to say that there were a number of “worried faces” among the flight attendants who he saw with a oxygen cylinders and said the plane was soon heading back to Heathrow “at great speed”.
Cabin crew then announced they were experiencing technical difficulties but the passenger added they were greeted by fire crews, paramedics and engineers on landing.
“Still being fed the tech fault line but the first on board were paramedics??
“It later transpires that both pilots became lightheaded/dizzy/unwell at the same time, in my book that’s serious,” he said.
Air accident investigators will now be examining what caused the pilots to become ill at the same time during the flight.
A spokeswoman for British Airways confirmed that both pilots had become “unwell” and followed procedures by donning oxygen masks and returning to Heathrow.
“The pilots reported feeling light headed so, as a precaution and following normal procedure, put on their oxygen masks,” she said.
“Our pilots are highly trained to deal with such circumstances. The aircraft landed safely and customers continued their journey after a short delay.”