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First Officer Shahar Apelman Honored as Real American Hero

January 10, 2023

First Officer Shahar Apelman Honored as Real American Hero

In December, First Officer Shahar Apelman was deadheading on a mainline American Airlines flight from CLT to LGA. First Officer Apelman boarded and took his seat and as the boarding process neared completion, he heard a loud ‘bang’ and a passenger noticed their bag was smoking while inside an overhead bin. The passenger removed their bag from the bin when part of the bag flared followed by momentary flames, which quickly subsided.

The Flight Crew initiated an emergency deplaning of all passengers and they began to exit the aircraft through the jet bridge. First Officer Apelman, who was in uniform, quickly grabbed the passenger’s luggage and then expeditiously exited the aircraft. The bag was subsequently moved to the gate area where the crew monitored the bag and made sure passengers were safely distanced until First Responders arrived.

“My training at PSA had a big part in the way I reacted to the situation and how I was able to identify the non-normal situation when it occurred,” said First Officer Apelman.” I was able to evaluate the situation, resources available, take action, evaluate the results and finally consider additional actions as the situation developed.”

Fire department personnel determined that an e-cigarette charger containing 18650 lithium-ion battery cells had gone into thermal runaway. Medical personnel arrived to assist passengers and crew while Maintenance personnel inspected the aircraft to ensure there was no damage.

“It is the responsibility of the crew to be vigilant,” he said. “Not only when in active duty but also when we are off-duty, dead-heading and even walking through the airport. While wearing the uniform, our responsibilities don’t end when we are done with our last flight.”

Shahar was invited to the American Airlines headquarters in Dallas, TX for a ceremony to honor his actions as a Real American Hero and got the opportunity to tour the American Airlines facilities.

“You can clearly notice the deep commitment between PSA and American Airlines but even more than that the great corporation between the safety department in PSA and at American Airlines in order to increase safety performance across the industry,” he said.

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