A medical examiner and Newark police confirmed the death shortly after the United plane landed at 2:50am GMT last night in New Jersey.
A Preliminary examination indicate that the female passenger who suffered with a pre-existing medical condition, is understood to have "passed away from natural causes", according to a Port Authority source. However, a cause of death is not yet known.
A spokesman for the airline added: "United confirms that a passenger passed away on flight UA115 from London Heathrow to New York/Newark on December 1 2014. We offer our condolences to the passenger's family. For privacy reasons, it would not be appropriate for us to comment further."
Julian Bray writes: A death in flight causes a series of special security situations and international protocols to be activated, inflight crew are trained accordingly. The first action is for a steward to make a call for any Doctors on board to come forward, and for the crew to break out the medical kits. If the Doctor is able to confirm the death, the body will be removed to the rear row of seats in the aircraft, and suitably covered.
The original seat where the deceased was sitting is also usually cordoned off for police purposes. Both the departure airport and the destination airport are notified, as a death in flight is technically recorded as being from the flight departure point or death on arrival. The aircraft will be temporarily withdrawn from service and following any investigation, given a special deep clean before returning to service.
JULIAN BRAY 01733 345581, Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN 01733 345020 SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe > Updates are on the Website