American Airlines Flight 550 traveling from Phoenix to Boston made an emergency landing in Syracuse, New York, Monday morning after the flight’s captain had a medical emergency.
The Airbus A320 jet with 152 passengers and crew on board landed safely with the first officer at the controls.
Late Monday evening, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker sent a letter out to the airline’s employees with additional information on the flight’s captain.
Flight 550’s captain, identified in the letter as Michael Johnston, was 57 years old and based out of Phoenix.
Johnston began his career in 1990 as a first officer on the Bombardier Dash 8 turboprop with America West Airlines – a predecessor of the newly-merged American Airlines.
Captain Johnston went on to fly Boeing 737 and 757 jets before being promoted to captain on the Airbus A320.
AA Flight 550 took off from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Sunday at 11:55 p.m. local time and landed in Syracuse at 7:13 a.m. Monday.
According to the Airline, a replacement crew was dispatched to get the passengers to Boston.
Here is Doug Parker’s letter in its entirety:
Dear Fellow Team Members,
Today we received the extremely sad news that Phoenix-based Captain Michael Johnston passed away while at work. Capt. Johnston was piloting Flight #550 from Phoenix to Boston early Monday morning when he fell ill. Capt. Johnston was 57 years old.
A graduate of Brigham Young University, Capt. Johnston began his career with America West Airlines in January 1990 as a first officer on the Dash-8. He later flew the 737 and the 757, before being upgraded to captain on the A320.
I want to take a moment to thank Mike’s crewmembers on Flight #550. They took extraordinary care of Mike, each other and our customers. We couldn’t be more proud of the teamwork this crew showed during an extremely difficult time. Our airport teams in Syracuse and Boston were also instrumental in assisting our customers, and their handling is also greatly appreciated.
All of us at American extend our condolences to Mike’s wife, Betty Jean, and to his entire family. They have lost a husband and father, and many of you have lost a personal friend. Taking care of Mike’s family is our focus now, and I know you’ll join me in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.