MOSCOW - A co-pilot was forced to take over and make a dramatic emergency landing after a plane’s captain suddenly “fainted” while preparing to arrive in Moscow.

Passengers and crew were left frightened after seeing the pilot collapse in front of them while the Montenegro Airlines flight they were on had begun its descent.

The co-pilot of the Fokker 100 jet plane informed air traffic control and a decision was taken to land the plane as soon as possible in Kaluga 120 miles, southwest of Moscow.

Tourists on board said the plane with 85 passengers and five crew “rolled” in the air during the drama.

One passenger called Nastya said: “The captain was unwell. At first, the plane suddenly moved to one side, or even rolled a bit…

“Then he came out of the cockpit and just collapsed. And there was no doctor on board.

"The flight attendants were worried and panicking. I feared for lives of my family on board the plane.”

Initial reports said the crew feared the pilot had suffered a heart attack during the flight which was taking Russian tourists home from Montenegro resort Tivat.

But he came round after the aircraft landed in Kaluga and incredibly said he was ready to fly again.

Other accounts said the pilot had felt sick and went to the toilet but fainted on the floor after leaving the cockpit in sight of alarmed passengers.

Another frightened passenger said the plane managed to touch down in Kaluga safely “but the landing was not so smooth”.

The pilot recovered only when the plane came to a stop on the ground.

The passenger said: "He said – ‘I will have a rest for about 20 minutes and we will fly again!’”

But ambulances had already arrived at the airport ready to take him to hospital.

Tourist Tatiana Smirnova, who was also on board, said a young female passenger, who was 19, had provided first aid for the collapsed pilot.

She said: "She did well, but there was no basic medication in the first aid kit on board for some reason”.

Nastya added: “Sometimes I cry during take off or landing. But I never cried as strongly as today.”

In another dramatic account, a female passenger was reported as saying: “The plane suddenly lurched, a man emerged from the cockpit and fell in the aisle.

“Later I realised he was the captain. Stewards began to search for a doctor in the cabin, panic was growing."(FA)