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Dead man takes international flights over four days

June 20, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A stowaway made several flights in the wheel well of a Russian passenger jet unnoticed, but was probably frozen to death on the first flight, authorities say.

The news has brought the efficiency of aircraft visual inspections into the spotlight. There are major security implications as well, because if somebody can get close enough to a jet to stow away on it, they are also close enough to sabotage it.250x250

Russian news site RT.com said the man has reportedly been identified as Giorgio Abduladze, a 22-year old Georgian national. Workers at a Moscow airport found his body, complete with identification documents in the pockets of his clothes, in the landing gear bay of a plane belonging to Russian charter airline I-Fly, shortly after it arrived from Italy. Preliminary investigations suggest the body was there four days, and made several flights.

Investigators suspect the man died of exposure. His clothing, a T-shirt and shorts, would not have protected him from sub-zero conditions at high altitudes, where the temperature can plunge even colder than minus 50 degrees C.

Russia’s aviation regulator said it would consult with Italian authorities on how the plane’s pre-flight servicing and inspection was conducted in Rimini.

Italy strongly denies any suggestion that the man could have got to the plane at an Italian airport.

Aircraft stowaways are nothing new, and most die. In 2012, a dead man in his mid-twenties was found in a west London street after plunging from a Heathrow-bound flight from Angola. He was later identified as a Mozambican attempting to enter Britain illegally.

A few stowaways survive in wheel wells or cargo holds, if the flight is not long and the plane does not climb too high.

In 2008, a stowaway hiding in luggage survived a flight from Florida to Texas. But it was a cat, not a human. Cats have the advantage of being naturally furry – and the cat was travelling in the cargo hold of an American Airlines plane – not in the wheel well.

Written by : Peter Needham

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