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
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
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
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick