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A veteran pilot who passed away mid-flight from Phoenix and Boston more than likely suffered a heart attack, CNN reports.

Captain Michael Johnston, 57, was operating American Airlines Flight 550 with five crew members and 147 passengers around midnight on Sunday when he fell ill. The co-pilot took over the plane and landed it safely in Syracuse, New York.

An air traffic controller was notified of the emergency landing before it took place.

The crew and the passengers waited on the plane as EMT workers boarded to remove Johnston’s body. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife BJ was informed by the medical examiner there was a “99.9 percent” chance he died from a heart attack. Johnston had undergone double bypass surgery in the past, but was most recently in good health.

Passengers saluted the co-pilot for safely landing the plane. Many told reporters they didn’t know anything happened until a flight attendant informed them via intercom the pilot was sick.

CNN reports: 

“Whatever happened in the cockpit, none of us will know,” passenger Frank Cacciola told CNN affiliate WCVB-TV.

“If it wasn’t for the copilot using a cool head,” Peter McSwiggin said, “it might have been more disastrous.”

Johnston began his career in 1990. His wife says he loved everything about his job and is happy he passed doing something he was passionate about.

SOURCE: CNN | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform 

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