Continental Flight 61, a Boeing 777 was on a flight from Brussels, Belgium to Newark, New Jersey with 247 passengers on board. In the middle of the flight the pilot, age 61, died. The co-pilot landed the plane without any problem. That was his job – to take control of the plane if the pilot is incapacitated and unable to perform.
As the plane approached Newark airport, all traffic was stopped for an hour or so. While this was done in the name of “safety” I think the airport made a wrong decision. This tied up and delayed many flights for up to several hours so far and it could be extended to longer delays by the end of the day.
No, I do not have a degree in aviation or knowledge of the inside workings of the FAA and airport operation. What I do know is this: all international flights have co-pilots, and those co-pilots are fully qualified to fly the airplanes to which they are assigned.
This particular flight happened to also have a third person who was also qualified to fly the plane. At no time was the flight safety jeopardized by the untimely death of the pilot.
There are some of you out there that would bring up the fact that these planes have and use autopilots. I agree with you that they do use these, even for takeoff and landing. I personally just don’t like the idea of trusting the landing of a plane to a Microsoft PC, a Mac or a hardened iPhone.