A man’s body was discovered in the undercarriage of a plane at Gatwick Airport shortly after landing at a London airport earlier this month.

Man’s Body Discovered

Before the body was found, the plane had flown six and a half hours from Banjul, Gambia’s capital, to Gatwick Airport in West Sussex. Sussex police confirmed that the discovery had been made on December 7 at around 4:00 GMT. Police are currently investigating the incident in which the man ended up in the undercarriage, which is the area beneath an aircraft’s main fuselage and wings section. They are currently in the process of preparing a report for the coroner.

Sussex police released a statement saying, “Police were called after the body of a man was found in the undercarriage of an aircraft at Gatwick airport, arriving from Gambia, at about 4 am on December 7.”

A spokesperson for Gatwick also said, “This is terribly sad news, and our thoughts go out to the family and friends of the deceased.”

Tui, the airline involved in the incident, refrained from commenting as the incident is a police matter.

A TUI aircraft taking off. Man's body found in TUI undercarriage.
The body was found onboard a TUI aircraft | © Tim Dennert

Little is known of the victim; however, a spokesperson for Gambia’s government has confirmed that the man was an unidentified black male.

History repeating

Despite being a relatively rare occurrence, this is not the first time a stowaway has met an unfortunate end in the UK. A similar case occurred in 2012, whereby a man’s lifeless body was also found in the undercarriage of a plane that had travelled from South Africa’s Cape town to Heathrow.

Additionally, last month, German carrier Lufthansa temporarily cancelled all flights from Iran after a dead body was found in one of the airline’s aircraft. After flying from Iran’s capital, Tehran, the plane had just arrived at Frankfurt airport.

A life-threatening decision

Some airside control areas in other parts of the world have different levels of security compared to the UK. This means that stowaways can sometimes sneak on board if the correct checks are not carried out.

However, the risks involved with travelling in a plane’s undercarriage are hazardous and often fatal. Possible consequences are frostbite, being crushed during the retraction of landing gear, loss of hearing, tinnitus, and acid build-up in body fluids which can lead to coma or death.

Once a plane reaches 22,000ft, stowaways also risk losing consciousness as blood oxygen levels drop.

What do you think of this upsetting news? Let us know in the comments.

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