A stowaway was discovered in the front landing gear compartment of a Boeing 747-400 on January 23rd.
The discovery was made in Amsterdam aboard a Cargolux freighter which had originated in Johannesburg, South Africa.
With an additional stop in Nairobi, Kenya, this perilous journey would have taken nearly 12 hours to complete- assuming the man boarded in South Africa.
On January 22nd, a Cargolux Italia Boeing 747-400F took off from Johannesburg for Nairobi at 19:30 local time operating flight CV7156. The stop in the Kenyan capital would be short, as the freighter’s ultimate destination was Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
The aircraft was registered LX-YCV bearing the nickname ‘Monte Rosa.’
The first leg of the flight from Johannesburg to Nairobi would take nearly four hours and touch down at its first stop at 00:17 on January 23rd. The aircraft would spend four hours on the ground here, loading and unloading its payload as necessary.
Then, at 04:16, the jumbo jet would depart for Amsterdam. With a flight duration of just over eight hours, the aircraft would touch down at Schiphol airport at 10:22 local time. It was here in the Dutch capital that authorities discovered the stowaway
Stowaway discovered in the landing gear compartment
According to the BBC, a stowaway was found alive in the nose wheel section of the 747. Royal Dutch Military Police note that the man was taken to hospital in stable condition.
“The man was found alive in the nose wheel section of the plane and was taken to hospital in a stable condition…This is definitely very unusual that someone was able to survive the cold at such a height – very, very unusual.” Royal Dutch Military Police spokeswoman Joanna Helmonds told media.
Indeed, even if the stowaway boarded in Kenya, eight hours at cruising altitude without a heated and pressurized cabin presents extreme life-threatening conditions. At this point, we don’t know if the individual boarded in Johannesburg or Nairobi, with authorities noting that the man’s age and nationality had not yet been determined.
With the man’s body temperature raised at the scene (Schihol airport), he was then taken to hospital by ambulance. Sources also note that he was able to answer basic questions.
Reuters reports that a Cargolux spokesperson has confirmed via email that the stowaway had been on a flight operated by Cargolux Italia. “We are not in a position to make any further comment until the authorities and the airline have completed their investigation,” the airline said to the news agency. Simple Flying has reached out to Cargolux requesting a statement regarding additional information. However, at the time of this article’s publication, no response has been received.
While the stowaway in this incident survived, this may not always be the case, as Simple Flying has reported in recent months.