Stowaway found barely alive in landing gear of flight from Algeria to Paris

Man taken to hospital with severe hypothermia after being discovered in Air Algerie aircraft

The stowaway was found on an Air Algerie aircraft that arrived at Paris Orly Airport from Oran, north-west Algeria. Getty Images
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A man was found barely alive hidden in the wheel well of an aircraft that arrived at Paris's Orly Airport from Algeria on Thursday.

The stowaway, believed to be in his 20s, has severe hypothermia, said officials.

He was discovered during technical checks after the Air Algerie flight from Oran, north-west Algeria, landed at midmorning, French prosecutors said.

He had no identification papers and was taken to hospital in a serious condition, they said.

An airport source earlier reported that the man “was alive but in a life-threatening condition because of severe hypothermia”.

Commercial aircraft cruise at an altitude of between 9,000 and 12,000m, where temperatures typically drop to about minus 50°C.

In addition to the cold, a lack of oxygen makes survival unlikely for anyone travelling in the landing gear compartment, which is neither heated nor pressurised.

According to US Federal Aviation Administration data, 132 people – known in the industry as wheel-well stowaways – tried to travel in the landing gear compartments of commercial aircraft between 1947 and 2021.

In April, the body of a man was discovered in the landing gear of an aircraft at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport that had flown in from Toronto, but earlier departed from Nigeria.

Four months earlier, two passengers were found dead on arrival in the landing gear space of a flight between Chile's capital Santiago and Colombian capital Bogota.

In July 2019, the frozen body of a man fell into a garden in a London suburb, believed to have fallen from the landing gear compartment of a Kenya Airways plane approaching Heathrow Airport.

The mortality rate for wheel-well stowaways way is 77 per cent, according to FAA figures.

Updated: January 02, 2024, 5:48 AM