The Kenya Airways pilot who was flying the plane in which a passenger died during flight, was trying to make an emergency landing in either Rome or Cairo to get the man medical attention prior to his death, the airline explained yesterday. On Sunday Swedish reporter Lena Pettersson told the Star that she had to sit next to a dead man for a 10 hour flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi on January 13 aboard KQ flight 117.
Pettersson narrated how the man, who seemed to be in his 30s, started convulsing and sweating even before the flight took off from Schiphol airport and died moments after take off. KQ has revealed that the man was an Australian national and he died about two hours after take off. "The crew called for doctor's assistance when the flight was on the ground and three medical doctors who were among the passengers in the plane attended to the man and cleared him for flying," said KQ communications manager, Chris Karanja, yesterday.
Karanja explained that the pilot got in touch with the KQ operations centre in Nairobi to inform them about the problems with the sickly passenger on board and indicated that he would make an emergency landing at either Cairo or turn back and land in Rome. The three doctors in the plane declared him dead just as the pilot had made a decision to do an emergency landing. "They would have had to involve the police and other relevant authorities had they decided to land the plane say in Cairo just to off load the body and the aircraft could have been delayed for hours or even days if the passengers were to record statements," Karanja said.
KQ said that according to policies on inflight deaths, a body is moved by the crew as far as possible from the other passengers which the flight attendants tried to do. "Six passengers who were near the body were moved to business class because there was some space available there," Karanja explained. He added that Pettersson was not liable to compensation because due procedure was followed but the airline offered to compensate her out of goodwill.