Aviation safety investigations & reports

Crew incapacitation - SASRO (IFR), Boeing 767-338, VH-OGP

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The Boeing 767 aircraft was conducting an international passenger flight from Auckland to Melbourne. During cruise the pilot in command (PIC) felt increasingly fatigued, and while outside the flight deck his condition deteriorated. He felt shaky and nauseous, and had pain in the back of his head and neck. He was administered oxygen by a member of the cabin crew. The PIC was relieved of duty and the flight continued to the destination with the copilot at the controls. An alert phase was declared. After landing the PIC was taken to hospital for observation. Subsequent tests proved inconclusive, but no evidence was found of a heart-related problem.

The pilot reported a history of stress-related difficulties over several years. He had received treatment for anxiety through a combination of stress management and medication, in the form of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). The pilot was also being treated for hypertension. It is possible that the incapacitation of the PIC was related to an anxiety reaction precipitated by a combination of factors including low blood pressure due to hypertension medication, fatigue and a head cold.

The CASA policy of granting medical certification to some private and commercial pilots and air traffic controllers who are taking medication such as SSRIs differs from that of most other Civil Aviation Authorities. However, the approach taken by CASA is in line with that recommended by the Aerospace Medical Association. In 2005, CASA published a safety evaluation of the policy. The report concluded that the policy was appropriate and that there were no safety concerns relating to the practice.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 546KB]
General details
Date: 12 August 2005   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0745 EST    
Location   (show map): SASRO, (IFR)    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Flight crew incapacitation  
Release date: 07 November 2006   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Minor  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer The Boeing Company  
Aircraft model 767  
Aircraft registration VH-OGP  
Serial number 28153  
Type of operation Air Transport High Capacity  
Damage to aircraft Nil  
Departure point Auckland, NZ  
Departure time 0515  
Destination Melbourne, Vic  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command ATPL 4995.0 8868.0
Co-Pilot/1st Officer ATPL 1300 3970
Last update 16 February 2016