Another young pilot dies from sudden cardiac arrest
‘All his past medical assessments were fine with no detected underlying medical conditions’
Yudi Sherman, Frontline News, November 21, 2023
A 37-year-old Air India pilot died Thursday after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport.
Captain Himanil Kumar was in Air India’s office when he suddenly collapsed. He was administered CPR but could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly afterward. Kumar had his last medical evaluation in late August and was declared fit to fly.
“Captain Himanil Kumar underwent his medical on August 23, 2023, and was declared fit, with his medical validity until August 30, 2024,” said a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official, according to the Times of India. “Further there is no fatigue-related issue with regard to flying duties. The pilot was undergoing his Boeing 777 full type transition ground technical course from October 3, 2023, converting from Airbus A320 type of aircraft.”
Kumar had been on vacation for the Indian holiday of Diwali. Thursday was his first day back.
“All his past medical assessments were fine with no detected underlying medical conditions,” said DGCA.
Indian physicians are blaming recent cardiac events in young, healthy people like Kumar on a host of factors.
“[W]hile the tragic event involving Captain Himanil Kumar is still under investigation, we must acknowledge that cardiac arrests can stem from a myriad of factors,” said Max Healthcare’s Principle Director of Cardiology Dr. (CoI). Manjinder Sandhu. “Underlying heart conditions, genetic predispositions, lifestyle choices, and external stressors all contribute to the complex tapestry of cardiac health. Thorough medical assessments, including detailed histories and diagnostic tests, are essential to understand and address these multifaceted risk factors proactively. The medical community should emphasize continuous monitoring, particularly in high-stress professions, to detect and manage potential cardiac issues early on.”
Aside from India, pilot incapacitations around the world have increased in recent months to several per month, raising concerns about aviation safety. Though pilots undergo regular health screenings, there appear to be maladies that are going unchecked. As the rate of pilot casualties increases, so does the probability of both co-pilots becoming incapacitated.
On September 24th the captain of an Austrian Airlines flight from Stuttgart to Vienna “began to feel unwell,” according to an incident report from Aviation Herald. By the time the plane started its descent he had become incapacitated and the first officer took control of the plane.
On September 23rd Alaska Airlines Captain Eric McRae was found dead in his hotel room during a layover before he was to resume duty.
The day before, a Delta Airlines flight from Paris to Los Angeles was forced to make an emergency landing in Minneapolis after the pilot became “medically incapacitated.” He was rushed to the hospital and the plane resumed its flight after a six-hour delay.
In August an IndiGo airline pilot collapsed at the boarding gate in India’s Nagpur airport and was pronounced dead at the hospital. According to preliminary reports, 40-year-old Captain Manoj Subramanyam suffered a “sudden cardiac arrest.”
The day before, a Qatar Airlines pilot on flight QR 579 from Delhi to Doha died suddenly on board. The 51-year-old was reportedly traveling as a passenger.
Three days prior to that incident, a LATAM flight from Miami to Santiago, Chile was forced to divert to Panama City after its pilot died suddenly in the lavatory.
The increase in pilot casualties has not come as a surprise to everyone, however. In a December 2021 letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and major airlines, some of the world’s most prominent medical experts urged the FAA to medically flag all pilots who received COVID-19 mRNA injections and have them examined.
“[A]cross all populations, the inoculations are resulting in significant increases in myocarditis and subsequent heart failure, arrhythmias, cardiac arrests, and deaths,” the letter warned. “This is especially true in the younger male cohort, to which many pilots belong.”
The letter warned that “should the FAA fail to ground and medically de-certify all pilots” who received the COVID-19 injections, it “will be putting many innocent airline passengers’ lives in harm’s way in the event a pilot loses control of his aircraft after suffering a major bloodclotting event (pulmonary embolism, stroke, etc.) or a myocarditis-related event, either of which can result in incapacitation, cardiac arrest, and death.”
The letter was signed by Dr. Peter McCullough, M.D., Dr. Ryan Cole, M.D., LTC Colonel Theresa Long, M.D., MPH, Pilot Cody Flint, and human rights attorneys.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has yet to investigate a link between pilots and COVID mRNA injections but denies there is one. “The FAA has no evidence of aircraft accidents or incapacitations caused by pilots suffering medical complications associated with Covid-19 vaccines,” a spokesperson told AFP.
Twenty-four-year-old recreational pilot Sierra Lund, a COVID-19 vaccine victim who can no longer fly solo, emphasizes that commercial pilots undergo regular medical examinations for fitness to fly.
“I think one thing that the public needs to know is, if they hear of a pilot having a condition, or a heart attack in the cockpit, they aren’t just your average person. . . . I mean, these people go in for extensive medical screenings to keep their jobs,” said Lund. “So these should be the healthiest people out there.”