On 5 August 2012, the pilot and flight nurse of a Raytheon B200 aircraft, registered VH-MSH, were tasked with transporting a patient from Port Macquarie to Sydney, New South Wales.
After departing Sydney, the pilot reported that he began to feel unwell, experiencing abdominal pain and nausea. When about 10 NM to the south-west of Williamtown Airport, his conditioned worsened. After donning his crew oxygen mask, the pilot’s health improved and a return to Sydney was commenced. During the descent, the pilot removed his oxygen mask and, soon after, he began to feel unwell again
The aircraft landed at Sydney and after shutdown the pilot became physically ill. The pilot recovered from the illness about 1 week later. It was determined that he most likely suffered viral gastroenteritis.
While pilots conduct a pre-flight inspection of their aircraft to determine airworthiness, this incident highlights the importance of pilots also assessing their own well being. Tools such as the ‘I’m safe checklist’ allows pilots to determine if they are physically and mentally prepared for a flight.