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Vienna To London: Romanian Survives -41C Hiding In Plane's Landing Gear

A Romanian survived a flight to Heathrow from Austria stowed away inside landing gear of jumbo jet. He was later let off by police, reports The Daily Mail, London.  The 2-year-old stowaway, hid in the
PTI June 10, 2010 16:30 IST

A Romanian survived a flight to Heathrow from Austria stowed away inside landing gear of jumbo jet. He was later let off by police, reports The Daily Mail, London.
The 2-year-old stowaway, hid in the undercarriage of the jumbo jet, survived temperatures of -41degree Celsius at 25,000ft during a free flight into Britain. 

The jobless Romanian crouched in the rear-wheel compartment during an extraordinary 800-mile trip from Vienna to London on a Boeing 747 owned by the Dubai royal family. 

Airport officals say the man could easily have been crushed by the plane's wheels or killed by a lack of oxygen and was 'incredibly lucky' to be alive. 

When the privately owned Boeing landed at Heathrow, the 20-year-old stowaway tumbled on to the runway and was arrested by security staff.     

He said he had come to Britain to find work, was examined by paramedics but incredibly suffered only a few bruises and was fit enough to be interviewed by police and immigration officials.    

Less than 24 hours later, he was released after accepting a police caution for being a stowaway and - because he is an EU national and proved his identity - was allowed to stay in Britain. 

A police source said: 'The plane would normally have flown at 37,000ft which would have killed him but it was flying lower because of thunder-storms. This, and the fact it was a short-haul flight, meant he survived. He's had a free flight and been released for his troubles. Welcome to England.' 

The Romanian reportedly slipped under a perimeter fence at Vienna Airport on Sunday evening and made his way to a private jet owned by the Dubai royal family. 

He told police he climbed into the wheel compartment of the plane, which took off at about 7pm UK time. One hour and 37minutes later, it landed at Heathrow. 

Sources said the man fell or jumped soon after the aircraft touched down and was arrested at 8.48pm for stowing away on an aircraft, contrary to Article 143 of the Air Navigation Order 2009, which carries a maximum sentence of a £2,500 fine. 

He was taken to Heathrow police station but because he was apparently of previous good character, he was given a police caution and released from custody at 2.47pm on Monday.

The man was carrying ID and immigration officials were satisfied he was Romanian and entitled to stay. Home Office sources confirmed there were no immigration issues and that the UK Border Agency was not seeking to deport him.

But the plot thickened Wednesday night after a spokesman for the Romanian Embassy in London said Scotland Yard was trying to find him. 

The official told the Mail: 'They called after his release from custody to say there were some outstanding questions, and asked us whether we had had heard from him. We have no idea where he is.' 

Speculation was rising that he may be seeking work at the Olympic Stadium in East London, where hundreds of Romanian construction workers are employed.

The Sheikh who owns the plane has reportedly threatened legal action against Vienna airport officials. 

Vienna airport spokesman Peter Kleemann said: 'This is the first time we have ever had a case like this.' He said the man said 'he had had enough of Vienna and wanted to go somewhere else where he might find work'. 

Vienna police spokesman Leo Lauber added: 'We are investigating, this is a high security area, we don't know how this could have happened. He claims he just climbed under the fence and then found a place on board the first aircraft he saw.' 

Lauber admitted the ten miles of fencing around the airport perimeter are not constantly patrolled. 

The Austrian interior ministry begun an inquiry into the security breach. But a spokesman added that individual airlines should be responsible for their own security. 

A spokesman for Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said the man was very lucky to be alive. 

Some stowaways have died after falling from planes when the wheels are lowered on approach to landing. 

In October 1996, a couple in a pub garden spotted a body falling from a DC9 over Richmond in South-West London as it approached Heathrow. 

Vijay Saini, 19, plunged 2,000ft. A post mortem examination revealed that he was already dead when he fell. His brother Pardeep, 22, survived the ten-hour journey.