A dead body in the landing gear section of a KLM A330-200 on a flight from Nigeria to the Netherlands was discovered upon landing on April 19, 2021.
It is believed that the stowaway hid in the wheel arch section of the plane on the flight PH-AOD from Lagos, Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS), to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), which had a total flight time of 6 hours and 45 minutes.
While a pending investigation is still to determine the man’s identity, authorities suspect that the likely cause of death was due to hypothermia and the extreme conditions that can be experienced at cruising altitude in an unpressurized section of a plane. At a normal cruising altitude of 37,000 feet, temperatures drop to as low as minus 57 degrees Celsius (-70 degrees Fahrenheit) and loss of consciousness is expected to occur between 30 and 60 seconds.
“The man had holed up in the wheel arch of the plane,” a spokesperson for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee told the Daily Star. “The low temperatures have presumably been fatal to him during the flight.”
A similar incident took place in February 2021. Back then, a 16-year-old Kenyan boy was found clinging to the landing gear of a Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 following a cargo flight from London Stansted Airport. However, the incident had a different outcome as the boy survived despite having experienced severe hypothermia. Health officials attribute his survival to his proximity to the residual heat emitted from the landing gear of the flight.