A foreign boy was found more dead than alive between the wheels of a cargo plane, which landed at Maastricht Aachen Airport from London on Thursday.
“ He is in the hospital and has not yet been able to make a statement. He was severely hypothermic. We know no nationality and no reason for this act of desperation,” says a spokesman for the Royal Marechaussee.
According to flight safety expert Benno Briek, old KLM commander, stowaways in the air usually end fatal. “Every year there are a number of sad cases worldwide. These young people, sometimes asylum seekers, do not realize that you cannot survive at a height of 10 km outside. Theres too little oxygen and its freezing 50 degrees. The flight from London to Maastricht is short and lower. That was his salvation. Better luck than wisdom.”
Brick has experienced it regularly in his active career as a pilot. “For example, air traffic control in Japan said that before landing we had to unfold our wheels over the sea. For they didnt want people to have dead stowaways falling into the garden above land.”
According to him, there is certainly room in a wheel arch of a plane for an illegal piggyback. “They may have to penetrate the secure airport site, but thats very big. Then you have to make sure that you are not pressed to death in the landing gear if the wheels are retracted after the start. But most suffocate or freeze to death.”
Aircraft stowaways are, according to aviation authorities, a growing problem due to the increasing number of asylum seekers, as in trucks and ferries. However, the world dome IATA cannot give exact figures. Often deceased people fall out of the wheel arch on the way. “Either way, its a miserable mission,” says Brick.