Monday, January 29, 2007

Stowaways in the gear bay

Not what you want to find on your pre-flight walk-around: A frozen body in a landing gear bay.

Yesterday a pilot did make such a discovery while making a pre-departure check of a British Airways B747-400 at LAX. The frozen corpse of an apparent stowaway was found in the front right gear bay of the aircraft, according to BBC News.

The aircraft had arrived at LAX from London's Heathrow Airport, and was being prepared for a return trip to LHR at the time the frozen body of the unfortunate young man was discovered. A UPI news report claimed that the body of the victim "had documents identifying him as a South African national born in 1989."

Earlier this month there was a similar incident at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. A dead body was discovered in the gear bay of a Delta Air Lines B767 upon its arrival at ATL from Johannesburg, South Africa via Dakar, Senegal.

An Associated Press article about that incident on the CBS News website suggested that the crew on the Delta flight may have been alerted to the possibility of a stowaway while they were airborne en route from Dakar to Atlanta: "The FAA says Delta was notified that the stowaway might be inside the plane after the Boeing 767 was already well into its flight. Delta apparently made a decision that it was too late for the plane to turn around."

The unanswered question is, when and how did these stowaways manage to secrete themselves aboard these aircraft without being detected before departure?