Pilot dies, plane lands safely in Newark

NEW YORK Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:51pm EDT

1 of 2. Passenger Stephanie Mallis (R) of Continental flight 61 hugs her mother Carine after being reunited at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, June 18, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A pilot on a Continental Airlines flight from Brussels to Newark died in mid-flight on Thursday, but the plane landed safely in New Jersey under the control of two co-pilots, authorities said on Thursday.

Continental flight 61 from Brussels landed at Newark Liberty International Airport, according to Continental's website.

"The captain of Continental flight 61, which was en route from Brussels to Newark, died in flight, apparently of natural causes," Continental said in a statement.

"The crew on this flight included an additional relief pilot who took the place of the deceased pilot. The flight continued safely with two pilots at the controls," it said.

The plane was a Boeing 777 with 247 passengers on board.

The pilot, 60, was based in Newark and had worked for Continental for 32 years, the airline said. Continental has one flight daily between Brussels and Newark.

Separately, an aircraft with 89 people on board taking off from Boston's Logan International Airport narrowly missed a truck on the runway on Thursday, in an incident described by airport authorities as "serious."

US Airways Group Inc Flight 27 to Phoenix was taking off at 6:36 a.m. (1036 GMT) when a vehicle driven by an outside contractor working at the airport drove across the runway, airport spokesman Phil Orlandella said.

Airport authorities stripped the driver of his right to drive in the airport. The flight landed safely in Phoenix.

The Boston Globe reported that the airplane missed the truck by seconds, quoting an airport official as saying the incident was serious and would be investigated.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Deepa Seetharaman in New York and Anne Jolis in Brussels, Editing by Patricia Zengerle)

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