A plane operated by Russian-based charter airline I-Fly completed seven flights before maintenance workers finally noticed a dead stowaway in the wheel well, the Aviation Herald is reporting.
The industry watchdog reports that after an otherwise uneventful flight from Rimini, Italy, to Moscow, Russia, maintenance workers found bloodstains on one of the main landing gear struts. After inspecting the wheel well, the crew found the remains of a male carrying a Georgian passport, who was later identified as 22-year-old Giorgio Abduladze. An autopsy revealed the man, who was wearing only a T-shirt and shorts, had frozen to death four days prior to being found, during which the aircraft had completed at least seven flights.
“Apparently the man died from exposure to cold; we suspect that he was a stowaway,” a spokesperson for the investigation told RT.com.
Experts are fiercely debating whether or not maintenance crews should have noticed the body sooner. Some say the inner gear doors only get opened during a weekly check. Either way, sneaking into the undercarriage of a plane comes with an extremely low survival rate. In fact, a recent BBC article noted that from 1947 until September 2012, there were 96 known stowaway attempts that resulted in 73 deaths.