Jet stowaway survives flight from Austria

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A man survived after stowing away in the landing gear of a private aeroplane which landed at Heathrow Airport, it was disclosed today.

Austria police said the man, a 20-year-old Romanian, told British officers that he crawled under the wire of the fence surrounding Vienna Airport and climbed into the undercarriage of the jumbo jet that was parked near a building site.

The private jet, belonging to a high-ranking sheikh from the United Arab Emirates, took off from the Austrian capital and landed at Heathrow on Sunday night, according to reports.

It is said that after landing at Heathrow, the man - who claimed he was looking for work - fell out of the gear's cavity and was caught by security.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said today that he was arrested for stowing away in an aircraft contrary to the Air Navigation Order 2009.

He said: "Police were alerted at 7.37pm on Sunday, June 6 re: 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, contrary to Article 143 and 241(6) of and Part B of Schedule 13 to the Air Navigation Order 2009.

"He remains in custody at Heathrow police station.

"It is alleged that he had stowed himself in the rear wheel compartment of the aircraft at Vienna Airport."

Austrian police chief Leo Lauber said the aeroplane was a private Boeing 747.

Austria's daily Kurier newspaper reported that the man escaped with slight bruises following the flight, which lasted one hour and 37 minutes.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said later that the man, who has not been identified, was cautioned and will receive no further action.

It is understood there is no immigration issue and no involvement from the UK Border Agency in seeking to deport him.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the man was "very lucky" to be alive.

He said: "It's not unheard-of for people trying to escape from a country to use this method.

"If they do stow away in the wheel wells, then there are a number of things that can happen to them.

"If they don't find the right part to stow away, they can be crushed when the under-carriage comes up.

"Because of the altitude and temperatures during the flight, there is a severe risk to them through exposure and lack of oxygen.

"If that doesn't kill them, then they could be unconscious when the aircraft descends, and that can mean that when the under-carriage opens again, they will fall out."