An Indian pilot working for Qatar Airwys has died mid-flight due to a massive heart attack after the plane took off from Manila, even as the aircraft landed safely at Kuala Lumpur.
Ajay Kukreja, 43, who has been working with the airline for five years, was flying QR-645 with around 260 passengers on board on Wednesday when the tragedy struck. When Kukreja complained of chest pain the co-pilot requested permission from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) authorities to land and asked that a medical team be on hand, a report in The Peninsula said.
The passengers on board were not told about the pilot's condition, the report said adding that he was declared dead after the flight landed at KLIA. The entire crew of the plane was then changed and it continued on its journey leaving Kuala Lumpur at 1.15pm and landing in Doha at 3.37pm, more than four-and-a-half hours behind schedule.
Kukreja's body was taken to Serdang Hospital in Kuala Lumpur for a post-mortem. Reports said he died of cardiac arrest. Sources close to his family in Doha told the newspaper he had no past history of heart problems. However, he was asthmatic and always carried an inhaler. His body will be flown to Mumbai directly from Kuala Lumpur, and Qatar Airways is also making arrangements to bring his family over.
Kukreja was from Delhi and had married woman from Goa, but his parents live in Mumbai. He has been living in Doha and working with Qatar Airways for five years. He has two children, a 13-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl.
A Qatar Airways official reportedly visited the widow to break the tragic news of her husband's sudden death. Earlier, however, a close friend had driven her from the nursery to the couple's home.