updated 1/29/2008 8:33:46 PM ET 2008-01-30T01:33:46

An Air Canada flight from Toronto to London made an emergency landing in Ireland after the co-pilot became ill in the cockpit, an airline spokesman said Tuesday.

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The flight from Toronto to London diverted to Shannon, Ireland, early Monday morning.

"The co-pilot fell ill during the flight and the captain elected to divert," said Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesman.

"The aircraft landed without incident," he said. "At no time were the safety of the passengers or crew in question. The flight was met by medical personnel and the individual is now in care."

Fitzpatrick would not confirm a report by the Irish Independent newspaper that the co-pilot suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be forcibly removed from the flight. He said the airline does not provide details about personnel issues. He also declined to comment on whether the co-pilot was undergoing psychiatric care and had no details on how long he would be hospitalized in Ireland.

Sean Finucane, a passengers, told CBC TV that 15 minutes before plane descended he saw the co-pilot being carried into the cabin in restraints.

"He was very very distraught. He was yelling loudly at times. When they tried to put on his shoes on later he swore and he threatened people," Finucane said.

"His voice was clear so he didn't sound drunk or anything. He was swearing and asking for God and very distressed. He basically said he wanted to talk to God."

Eugene Pratt, spokesman for the Shannon Airport, said they were notified a crew member was unwell and said they had a medical representative waiting for the diverted flight at the airport. He did not provide further details.

Pratt said the passengers were sent to hotels and that another flight crew was quickly dispatched from London. The flight to Heathrow Airport resumed about 2:30 p.m. Pratt said the passengers arrived in London about eight hours behind schedule.

Fitzpatrick said 146 passengers were aboard the plane.

Transport Canada spokeswoman Lucie Vignola said that Transport Canada will be interviewing the flight crew and the airline.

Vignola also said that commercial pilots must undergo medical checkups every six months under the requirements of their license.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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