Friday, July 25, 2008

Aditya’s Parents' Question to Jet Airways and Aviation Authorities


Request for investigation into condition of the flight leading to the death of our infant son, Aditya Mohan, who died on Jet Airways Flight 229 ( BrusselsDelhi ), 17th June 2008

I would like to highlight a few facts about incidents prior, during and after the Jet Airways flight 229 from Brussels to Delhi on17th June 2008 in which our infant son, Aditya Mohan Died.

Based on these and other facts, I would like to request a thorough investigation of the airline and its practices to ensure that no other parent ever suffers through this ordeal of seeing their child die in their hands.


Copy to:

  • European Aviation Safety Agency
  • The Belgian Civil Aviation Authority
  • The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) India
  • Naresh Goyal, Founder Chairman of Jet Airways
  • CEO/MD, Infosys Technologies Ltd (employer)
  • Commissioner of Police, New Delhi

Incident: Infant Aditya Mohan died on Jet Airways Flight 229 ( BrusselsDelhi ), 17th June 2008

Our Flight itinerary:
9W 225 Toronto => Brussels (16 June)
9W 229 Brussels => Delhi (17 June)

Airline: Jet Airways

Deceased: Aditya Mohan. Canadian Citizen and Person of Indian Origin. Age: Approx 4.5 months(DOB: 26 Jan 2008). Declared ‘Dead on Arrival’ by doctor from Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) on board the aircraft.

Cause of death as per autopsy: Asphyxiation due to chocking

Our baby died on board the aircraft on Jet Airways Flight229 (BrusselsDelhi). After the seat-belt signs had been turned on for descent of the flight into Delhi, my wife started feeding the baby. We were advised that this is normal procedure since feeding helps the baby relax during landing. While feeding, my wife realized that the baby had suddenly stopped sucking. We then buzzed for Cabin-crew and also removed seat-belts and rushed to their station. They looked at the baby and also decided to page passengers to see if there was a doctor on board. There was a doctor on board who came and looked at the baby but he did not look too hopeful. The crew then informed the ground staff at IGI and they got a doctor on board immediately on landing. When the doctor boarded, he declared the baby dead on arrival.

The IGI airport police then boarded the aircraft and took a statement from the airline staff and us. The police and staff then escorted my wife and self out of the aircraft and later decided to take the baby to the morgue at Safdarjung Hospital . The next morning, I went with my relative and waited for autopsy to be completed and took the remains of baby for his last rites.

The autopsy states the cause of death as “asphyxiation due to chocking.” I am given to understand that this is a rarest of rare case.However, the fact that the baby suddenly died in the aircraft during descent,warrants an investigation into extraneous circumstances.

Aditya had been examined by our family doctor in Toronto , Dr. Tasneem Hussain, a few days prior to travel and he was in perfect health. The ticket check-in staff of Jet Airways in Toronto also came and played with a laughing Aditya at the time of departure. To my knowledge, Aditya was the only infant on board Flight 229. On the earlier flight that we took (9W 225) there was another mother with a baby who had requested a bassinet and sat next to us. While this by itself is not significant, it makes me wonder if the conditions on Flight 229 were conducive to travel of infants. The airline should provide information on whether there were any other babies or infirm passengers on board the flight or all the other passengers were healthy adults?

There are a few incidents specific to the flight 229,before, during and after that I wish to highlight, which demand a thorough investigation of the airline and its practices to ensure that no parent of ayoung infant ever undergoes such an ordeal.

· Issue 1: Temperature of cabin during flight. On the flight from Toronto to Brussels (9W 225), most fellow passengers had used the blankets provided in the aircraft. Even I had worn my coat during the flight and Aditya slept comfortably in the bassinet with a sleeper, sweater and cap on. On Flight 229, the temperature was certainly warmer. Most fellow passengers did not use the blankets provided. Aditya was uncomfortable in his sleeper and we had to only use his undershirt. The questions that need to be answered:

    • Why this visible variation in temperature between flights into and out of Brussels ?
    • What was the exact recorded temperature of cabin area where we were seated on both flights (Flight 225 and Flight 229)?

· Issue 2: Cabin air pressure and level of oxygen in the flight and during landing. At the time of descent in Brussels on Flight 225, my wife and I did not experience any discomfort. Baby Aditya was feeding his mothers’ milk and he was perfectly okay after the flight and during the three hour stopover. During the descent of flight 229 into Delhi , both my wife and I experienced extreme pain in our ears, while Aditya was feeding his mothers milk. This was during his final moments and he must have felt extreme discomfort.

    • Was our discomfort due to the sudden change in cabin pressure?
    • What was the cabin pressure recorded on the flight at the time of landing. Was the recorded air pressure in the cabin normal for infants?
    • Has there been a record of such change leading to other complications in babies?
    • Was the level of oxygen in the cabin normal/adequate for infants?

· Issue 3: Safety procedures. I have frequently traveled by air and realize that curtains are drawn back during landing and take off. I am given to understand that this is standard procedure to allow crew to have a view of the cabin. I remember that my wife and I had to pull back the curtains when we rushed Aditya to the cabin crew during descent.

    • Would the cabin crew have had a line of vision of this emergency if the curtains had been drawn back?
    • Why was this basic safety procedure not followed?
    • Were there other similar procedures which I am not aware of, that were not followed?

· Issue 4: Cabin Crew training for emergencies: I realize that cabin crew are not trained para-medics,and cannot be expected to do much beyond administering basic first-aid. When we realized that Aditya was not responding and we took him to the Crew station, the gentleman (I forget his name) tried putting oxygen mask on Aditya, after which he realized that the mask was not connected to the green oxygen tank. Minutes were lost in this while Sujatha and I along with the other cabin crew stood frozen and shocked. I cannot take the image of the shocked, young air crew struggling with Aditya from my mind. The air crew continued to struggle till a fellow passenger/Doctor was paged but I think we may have lost a lot of time by then.

I also recall the passenger-Doctor looking at the medical bag and asking the Crew if there was a certain injection in the bag. I forget the name of the injection but I recall the crew saying that they did not have it.

    • The Cabin Crew should be trained better in administering first-response, including administering oxygen during real emergencies. What is Jet Airways going to do to improve?
    • Why did the medical kit not contain the injection that the Doctor requested?

· Issue 5: Jet Airways not prepared for infants: My wife and I had called Jet Airways two days prior to our travel and specifically requested a seat with a bassinet. On the flight from Toronto to Brussels (9W 225) we were assigned a seat with a bassinet. On boarding the flight 229, my wife and I realized that we did not have a bassinet seat pre-assigned.

The Cabin Crew did manage to shift us to a seat with a bassinet but the passenger seated there refused to vacate even though the flight was not even half full. Later during the flight she moved to a vacant seat elsewhere. However, at the time of landing the lady came back and sat next to my wife, who was trying to feed the baby. The stewardess noticed this and asked the lady to move back but was not able to persuade her to move. This was minutes before the seat belt sign was announced for landing. While this by itself may not be a cause, my wife was certainly distracted by the sudden presence of the passenger next to her while she was trying to breast-feed and care for Aditya during what turned out to be his final moments. We pointed this out to the staff after the incident but they claimed helplessness.

    • Why was a bassinet not pre-assigned to us on this flight even though a prior request had been made?
    • Why is the Jet Airways Cabin Crew not empowered to enforce a request to move passenger for comfort of other passengers with infants especially on a flight that is half empty?

· Issue 6: Jet Airways’ Lack of emergency handling procedure.

After the aircraft landed at IGI,a ground doctor boarded the aircraft, examined Aditya and declared him ‘dead on arrival’ and sat down and proceed to ask questions and write a report. After that, a Police Inspector from IGI boarded the aircraft to take statements. My wife and I were in total shock and were unable to think but now the questions keeps coming back to haunt us

    • Why was there no ambulance waiting near the aircraft?
    • Why was Aditya not rushed to a local hospital for examination (and possible resuscitation) ?
    • Why was the airline and ground-staff in a hurry to ‘close the matter’ by escorting Aditya to the morgue? Why was the baby not rushed to a nearby hospital?

· Issue 7: Lack of basic courtesy and dignity for shocked and grieving family at IGI Airport .

After Aditya was declared dead on board the aircraft the police and staff escorted us to the immigration hall at IGI, which was an open room with fellow passengers and others watching me carry the body of my baby with my wife. After we were escorted to the international transit lounge, we stood in an open area with other waiting passengers staring at us. Only when I objected to this that the staff escorted us to a room which happened to be a ticket booth with an open glass door. We were asked to wait there while the police and airline staff tried to figure out ground transportation to the morgue. Only when I objected to this that the airline staff rushed to arrange taxis instead of waiting for another vehicle.

    • Why is there an utter lack of dignity during the time of shock and grief?
    • Should the staff not be trained to handle emergencies with courtesy and dignity?

As a parent, I will continue to re-live Aditya’s final moments, asking myself if I could have done anything different to save the life of our child. I will never be able to forgive myself for not having acted differently, whatever that action could have been. Similarly, I want Jet Airways and authorities to conduct a more thorough investigation of the above and other aspects and provide me the answers.

I am sure there are experts who can quickly analyze data from the flight and determine variances from normal. A thorough investigation into the data from the flight is warranted. My goal is to ensure that no other parent ever suffers through this ordeal.

Grieving Parent

Please sign the Petition to ensure investigation of the incident

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Questions cannot bring back our child back to life

Jet airways’ website says: Infant and Child Care: Special attention is always given to our younger patrons of Jet Airways. A PACK OF LIES ... IF THERE WAS ONE

Question to Jet Airways: Why don’t you assign Bassinet Seats even after they are confirmed?

For a parent to see a child die while in their hands can perhaps the most heart wrenching experiences; something one would never have even imagined. Now, for this to happen in an aircraft while in descent is all the more excruciating. My wife and I continue to re-live Aditya's final moments.

On the fateful flight 9W 229, we had requested and confirmed a Bassinet seat for little Aditya. On boarding, we were shocked to find that we did not have such a seat assigned. After arguing with the crew, we were assigned such a seat but what was more shocking was that even in a half-full flight, the lady seated in that seat refused to vacate! What did the stewardess do? Just shrugged her shoulder!

Not that this fiasco alone was responsible for little Aditya’s death… but makes one wonder: if we had a seat pre-assigned, would it have been any different?

I have drafted a questionnaire and mailed out to Jet Airways and other Aviation authorities. It has been over two weeks but NO RESPONSE YET.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sick baby dies on plane .. How about a Baby that was not sick?!

Here's a story of a sick baby that died on board an Aircraft recently. Aditya Mohan was NOT sick... but still died! RIP

A sick four-month old girl died on board Monday’s Air Pacific flight from Nadi to Sydney, while she was on her way to receive treatment in India. Earlier media reports of the flight having been diverted appear to be false and e-Travel Blackboard can confirm the girl was on flight FJ911 codeshare with Qantas flight QF392.

The baby is believed to be one of several sick children who were headed towards India from for specialist medical treatment, a procedure which is believed to becoming more common with Fijians.

The group was in fact travelling with a doctor. A post-mortem is currently being conducted, but NSW investigators are not treating the death as suspicious.

Officials said the flight landed safely at the scheduled time of 11:45am, and that the body of the toddler has been taken to the Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick. The group were expected to change flights and carriers in Sydney.

UPDATE: In a statement, Air Pacific CEO, John Campbell, commented that the baby was suffering from an existing congenital heart disorder, and was on the flight with a party of six sick children who were headed to India via a charity sponsorship from Vodafone. Source

Questions parents of Aditya are asking:

  • CEO or a senior Executive from Jet Airways has not commented on the death of baby Aditya. Wonder why?
  • Baby Aditya was not sick, but still died at the time of landing under unusual circumstances. What are the authorities and Airline doing to investigate?
  • Why did the Indian media not pick up on the story of Baby Aditya dying in the aircraft? [Only Indian Express has carried this news]

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mashallah what a fine baby!

Mashallah what a fine baby, exclaimed Dr. Hussain, our family doctor in Mississauga during Aditya's first monthly visit. She did a general checkup and exclaimed that he was doing extremely well for his age – 4 weeks. And later the expression, Mashallah ("Praise the Lord"), became a running joke between my Suja (Aditya’s mom) and self.

Proud first time parents, we took joy in the fact that our newborn was blossoming into a fine baby showing signs of early development…and a kudos from our family doctor was enough to trigger an extra burst of joy.

Halfway across the globe, Aditya’s (maternal and paternal) grandparents were joyous too. And thanks in part to free web-conferencing technology from yahoo and Microsoft, were able to watch the little one grow week-by-week.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hard to believe our Baby Aditya is no more

Aditya was born to loving parents, Suja and Mohan on 26th Jan 2008 in Mississauga, Toronto (Ontario). About 10 days over due, he finally arrived as a bundle of joy, a healthy baby boy! Boys must wear blue, goes the custom so Aditya was gifted all blue dresses, sweaters, jumpers, blankets and everything else that little babies need.

Two days after he was born, we drove him to the doctor for a regular checkup on a day that also experienced the biggest snowfall of the season (about 4 feet) with a windchill of over – 18 celcius. Canadian, eh? Went the weather gods. Aditya was all set to grow up a proud Indo-Canadian.

His four-and-half months in this world were amazing, to say the least. The sheer joy he brought to us, his parents (and his grandparents halfway across the world) was to put it simply, priceless.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Indian Express: Infant dies on flight, NRI parents say he was healthy

Article from Indian Express: Infant dies on flight, NRI parents say he was healthy

SOBHANA K / Preeti Jha
Posted online: Friday, June 20, 2008 at 0210 hrs IST
New Delhi, June 19
Minutes from landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on June 17, Krishnamoorthy and Sujata Mohan noticed that their four-and-a-half-month-old baby, Aditya, had stopped suckling. He was declared dead on arrival.

Travelling on Jet Airways Flight 229 from Toronto to Bangalore via Delhi, the Mohans are Non Resident Indians living in Canada, where Krishnamoorthy, 37, works for a software company. Their baby, Aditya, was a Canadian citizen. He was the couple's first baby.

During the descent of the aircraft, Krishnamoorthy said the airline staff advised his wife to feed the baby to ease the air pressure in his ears. “But while feeding, he (Aditya) suddenly stopped suckling and went still,” said Krishnamoorthy.
The cabin crew was immediately alerted. The pilot made an announcement, requesting any doctor on board to help.

Even though one of the passengers was a doctor and came forward to help, he could not revive the baby. “He (the doctor) examined the baby, but didn't sound very positive,” said Krishnamoorthy. The cabin crew, meanwhile, alerted the ground staff to keep a doctor on hand, who, upon examining the baby, declared him dead on arrival.

The police boarded the aircraft and took a statement from the Mohans, after which they took the baby to the Safdarjang Hospital mortuary. The postmortem was conducted yesterday and the body was handed over to the family. The police are carrying out further investigations.
The Mohans are in shock. “I don't know why it happened —whether it was the level of oxygen or the temperature in the cabin. Prior to travelling we had a medical check done on Aditya. The doctor said he was a healthy boy,” said Krishnamoorthy.

The couple alleged that the airline personnel were of little help when they entered the immigration hall carrying the baby. “I shouted out for some privacy. All they did was move us to a cabin with an open glass door. The staff lacked even basic courtesy,” Krishnamoorthy said. “Nobody from Jet has even called us to offer condolences.”
The couple, who are waiting for the postmortem report, are undecided about pressing charges against the airline. “I do not know at this point of time,” Krishnamoorthy said.

A Shivanandan, General Manager, Corporate Communication, Jet Airways, said: “We cannot comment on the baby's death because we do not know what his medical condition was. But we provided all the help we could. There was a doctor on board, but the baby could not be revived.”