Rejoinder, our reply
Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab), on August 28, sent a rejoinder to our report titled "Death of Passenger: Plane denied priority landing" published a day before.
In the rejoinder, Caab said: "(A) According to the statement of HSIA tower controller, on August 26, at approximately 3:20am, flights EY230 and BG350 received clearance for landing by Air Traffic Control (ATC). At that time, there was a cargo plane at the take off point of the runway which was supposed to take off within two minutes. But the flight took four minutes due to operational reasons. As a result, the ATC tower was forced to keep waiting both the aircraft ready to land to ensure safe landing. Subsequently, within a gap of three minutes, flight EY230 landed safely at 3:33am and flight BG350 landed at 3:36am.
"(B) It may be mentioned that on information from BG-350 around 3:15am on August 26 that a critical patient is on board, the ATC tower informed the Duty Security Officer (DSO) to send a doctor to the assigned boarding bridge-4 for BG350 flight on an urgent basis. The DSO immediately informed the duty doctor in charge of the airport's health wing to go to boarding bridge-4 on an emergency basis.
"(C) The duty doctor rushed to boarding bridge-4 after receiving the news. As flight BG350 landed at 3:36am, the duty doctor entered the aircraft immediately. After examining the passenger -- Md Shahjalal -- in various ways, the duty doctor informed that the passenger is dead. The duty doctor spoke to the aircrew and found out that approximately two hours before landing of the flight, the passenger next to him (Shahjalal's close relative) informed the aircrew that Shahjalal is feeling unwell. The aircrew immediately gave CPR, oxygen to the passenger and checked him with a pulse oximeter as he was unresponsive, but the passenger's pulse and blood pressure were not detected. The passenger's close relative who accompanied him in the flight said that he was seriously ill for the last three to four months. The body was handed over to his family after the death certificate was issued by the duty doctor."
The rejoinder also said, "As a result of the published news, image of Caab as well as the country has been damaged in the international arena and has created confusion among passengers and the general public."
Before entering Bangladeshi airspace, BG350 communicated with Dhaka ATC and informed that there was a seriously sick passenger onboard, and that they would require a doctor and ambulance upon landing.
According to the Caab statement, BG350 contacted at 3:15am and landed at 3:36am, which implies the plane landed just 16 minutes after declaring emergency.
According to our sources, the cockpit crew of the Biman flight notified ATC about the sick passenger around 3:00am, which means the ATC had plenty of time to get things sorted on the ground for the arriving flight.
Following a declaration of a medical emergency by a plane, it gets priority over all scheduled traffic and a doctor is supposed board the plane as soon as it reaches the gate. Passengers are not supposed to disembark until the patient is taken care of and taken off the plane.
But these were not done. A cargo plane was on the runway which could have been directed to vacate the runway. Flight EY230 should have been asked to hold, instead of BG350.
The Caab statement says, EY230 landed three minutes before BG350. By observing Flightradar24, it can be seen that BG350 was put on hold for landing and made to fly in circle at least once.
The rejoinder claimed that a doctor boarded the plane immediately after it reached the gate but according to our sources the plane reached the gate at 3:46am and the doctor arrived at 4:15am, almost half an hour later.
HSIA did not respond to the medical emergency declared by the cockpit crew in accordance with international standards and standard operating procedure for such cases.
We stand by our report.