Just 15 minutes before arriving at LAX on a United Airlines flight from London on December 23rd, Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack. The American actress, best known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga, died a few days later in hospital aged 60.
It made us wonder about current legislation, so we contacted IATA. We were surprised to learn from the international air transport association that airlines are not obliged to keep a defibrillator aboard their aircraft, even if the vast majority of them do have one. In that case, at least one member of the crew must be trained in how to use it.
Generally, in case of a medical emergency in flight, cabin crew are in touch with doctors on the ground. They can also appeal for help from a doctor among the passengers, if they are lucky to find one on board. Depending on the level of emergency and the position of the aircraft, the pilot can decide whether or not to divert the aircraft. But it’s a decision that remains rare.