From Vienna to Heathrow in the undercarriage of a plane

A young Romanian risked death stowing away in the undercarriage of a jumbo jet to Britain despite being entitled to come into the country legally.

The 20-year-old was discovered by security staff at Heathrow after falling out of the rear wheel compartment.

Last night an official at the Civil Aviation Authority said he was lucky to be alive with planes usually flying at around 35,000 feet in freezing temperatures.

"A lot of times stowaways die from hypothermia and lack of oxygen. Those travelling long distance who do survive are often unconscious for a large portion of the flight, and that is the only reason they survive because their body slows down.

"Furthermore if you are not in the right bit of the wheel well you can be crushed when the undercarriage comes up, which quite often happens," he explained.

Since joining the EU in 1997, Romanian citizens, in the words of the UK Border Agency, "have every right" to come to the UK. The only stipulation is that they must have Accession Worker Cards before taking on employment.

The man, Austrian police said, had been hoping to find work in Britain, so he crawled under the wire of the fence surrounding Vienna Airport and climbed into the landing gear of a private jet belonging to a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates.

The plane made its hour and a half journey from the Austrian capital and arrived at Heathrow on Sunday night. Upon landing at Heathrow he fell out of the gear's cavity and was caught by security.

The jet would normally have been travelling at 37,000ft in temperatures of around minus 50C to maximise fuel efficiency, but the pilot had chosen to fly at 25,000ft due to bad weather.

Last night a Metropolitan Police spokesman said that the man was arrested for stowing away in an aircraft contrary to the Air Navigation Order 2009 and taken into custody at Heathrow police station where he was cautioned for the offence of being a stowaway and entering Britain without a passport.

"Police were alerted at 7.37pm on Sunday, 6 June regarding a suspected stowaway on a private aeroplane that had landed at Heathrow. A 20-year-old Romanian national was arrested for stowing away on an aircraft," said a spokesman, adding that he had since been released.

The young man was said to be "in incredibly good shape" despite his ordeal. The police spokesman added: "We called London Ambulance Service and they checked him over but there were no obvious signs of medical impairment."

Vienna airport's police chief, Leo Lauber, told the Evening Standard: "He aimed for any jet, it would seem, not one in particular. After wriggling under the fence he headed for the aircraft nearest to the fence. He had no idea where it was going to. Initial inquiries here seem to indicate he wanted to go abroad to find work."

Many desperate stowaways have lost their lives in recent years.

In October 1996, Vijay Saini, 19, fell 2,000ft from a jet as it was approaching Heathrow. A post-mortem examination found that he was already dead when he tumbled from the plane. His brother Pardeep, 22, survived the 10-hour journey from Delhi.

In January 2007, a pilot making a routine inspection shortly before a British Airways flight was due to return to London from Los Angeles discovered the body of young man in the front wheel well of the 747-400. The airline said he had probably stowed away in some other country on the plane's route.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: NON-CONTENTIOUS (0-2 PQE) - A rare opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Financial Analyst

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Financial Analyst is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Recruitment Genius: Secretary

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This major European Intellectual Propert...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness