Suspected stowaway found dead in wheel well
of SFO bound airplane
By Caitilin McAdoo
July 19, 2007
A man who was found dead in the wheel-well of a Boeing 747 at
San Francisco International Airport today was not the first suspected
stowaway to die trying that feat, Federal Aviation Administration
spokesman Ian Gregor said.
Since 1947, the FAA is aware of 74 wheel-well stowaways on 64
flights worldwide, Gregor said.
Out of those 74 stowaways, 14 survived.
Of the 60 stowaways who were killed, the vast majority asphyxiated,
froze to death or were crushed to death, Gregor said.
The last time a stowaway survived was in 2004 on a flight from
the Dominican Republic to Miami, Gregor said.
Mechanics doing a post-flight inspection found today's suspected
stowaway in the nose wheel-well of a Boeing 747 at about 8:30
a.m. on United Airlines flight 858, which flew from Shanghai to
San Francisco, airport spokesman Michael McCarron said.
San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said that the body
appeared to be that of an Asian man in his 50s. He has not yet
Foucrault said that there appeared to be very little traumatic
injury to the man's body. An autopsy has been scheduled for Friday
to determine the man's cause of death.
The plane, which was scheduled to fly to Frankfurt, Germany this
afternoon, was taken out of service. Passengers were boarded onto
a different plane and the flight left about an hour late, McCarron
The plane did not, however, appear to have been damaged by the
extra passenger and the pilot didn't report any problems during
the flight from Shanghai, McCarron said.
A 2005 FAA report, however, states that "wheel-well stowaways
continue to be a problem and require prevention."
The International Civil Aviation Organization sets security standards
for foreign airports. In addition U.S. Transportation Security
Administration officials conduct security assessments at all international
airports that provide service to the U.S., according to the TSA.
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