Indonesian pilot dies after landing plane amid health issue

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The pilot of a passenger airplane in Indonesia suffered a health emergency 15 minutes after take-off on Thursday and was forced to return to the airport before being rushed to a hospital where he later died.

The Citilink Indonesia flight — an Airbus A320 carrying more than 100 passengers — had departed from Surabaya’s international airport in East Java province and was headed to Ujung Pandang city in South Sulawesi province.

The cause of the pilot’s death was not immediately known.

The airline said it had conducted health checks prior to the flight for all crew on duty and that they were “declared fit or airworthy,” according to a statement from Dewa Kadek Rai, the president director of PT Citilink Indonesia.

The passengers and the rest of the crew were safe and the flight later reached its destination with a new aircraft and crew.

Citilink Indonesia is a low-cost carrier and a subsidiary of state-owned carrier Garuda Indonesia Group. It serves more than 100 routes to 47 domestic and international destinations.

Indonesian airlines were banned in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade. The ban was completely lifted in 2018.

Indonesia’s aviation record is one of the worst in Asia, with more civilian airliner passenger accidents since 1945 than any other country in the region. Past accidents have been attributed to poor pilot training, mechanical failures, air traffic control issues and poor aircraft maintenance.

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