A man in his 20s was discovered concealed in the landing gear compartment of a commercial aircraft that had flown from Algeria to Paris. Despite severe hypothermia, he was found alive during technical checks at Paris’s Orly airport following the Air Algerie flight from Oran, Algeria, in mid-morning, as reported by French authorities.
Lacking any identification, he was transported to the hospital in a critical condition. Initial reports from an airport source indicated that the man was alive but facing life-threatening conditions due to extreme hypothermia.
Commercial airplanes typically maintain cruising altitudes of 30,000 to 40,000 feet, where temperatures can drop to approximately -50 degrees Celsius (-58F). The lack of heating and pressurization in the landing gear compartment makes survival unlikely at such conditions.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data, referenced in media reports, reveals that 132 individuals, known as “wheel-well stowaways,” attempted to travel in landing gear compartments of commercial aircraft between 1947 and 2021.
In a separate incident in April of the same year, a man’s body was found in the landing gear of an aircraft at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, originating from Toronto and previously departing from Nigeria. Four months earlier, two passengers were discovered deceased upon arrival in the landing gear storage space of a flight between Santiago de Chile and Bogotá.
In July 2019, a frozen body fell into a garden in a London suburb, believed to have been in the landing gear compartment of a Kenya Airways plane approaching Heathrow airport. The FAA’s data indicates a mortality rate of 77% for individuals attempting to travel in this manner.
These incidents highlight the extreme risks and life-threatening conditions associated with attempting to travel in the landing gear compartments of commercial aircraft. The harsh temperatures, lack of oxygen, and other environmental factors make it a perilous endeavor, with a high likelihood of fatal consequences.
Authorities underscore the dangerous nature of such attempts, emphasizing the importance of adhering to standard travel procedures and safety regulations. The discovery of individuals in landing gear compartments is not only a grave violation of aviation safety but also poses significant challenges to the well-being and survival of those attempting such journeys.
Efforts to address and prevent these occurrences involve enhanced security measures and technological advancements to detect and deter stowaways. Airlines, airport authorities, and aviation agencies continually work towards improving safety protocols and raising awareness about the risks associated with unauthorized attempts to travel in such confined and inhospitable spaces.
The instances mentioned, where individuals were found in landing gear compartments, serve as tragic reminders of the desperate measures some may take in pursuit of unconventional travel. Despite the advancements in aviation technology and safety, these incidents underscore the need for ongoing vigilance and comprehensive measures to ensure the security and well-being of all passengers and the integrity of air travel systems.