MAASTRICHT, 7 February 2021 – A 16-year-old boy survived after stowing away in the landing gear of an aircraft that took him from Nairobi to Holland, via Turkey and Britain.
Ground crew at Maastricht Airport in the Netherlands discovered the teenager after the Airbus A330 Freighter touched down on Friday.
The boy “had tremendous luck to get through this,” a former spokesperson for Maastricht Aachen Airport told Netherland News Live.
Officials in a police branch of the Netherlands’ armed forces said it was investigating whether the teenager had been smuggled aboard the aircraft as part of a human trafficking conspiracy.
The youngster was admitted Saturday to a hospital in Maastricht, suffering from hypothermia, after the 8,000-kilometer journey.
The teenager, who has not been named, was said to be doing well in hospital in Maastricht on Saturday night while efforts were being made to contact his family back in Kenya.
Operated by Turkish Airlines, the plane departed Nairobi on Wednesday initially bound for Istanbul, Turkey.
It then flew to Stansted Airport in Essex before the final leg of its journey to Maastricht.
Health experts say those who stowaway in the landing gear of commercial aircraft, flying at altitudes of 38,000 feet (10,000 meters) usually freeze to death, die from lack of oxygen or fall from the aircraft as it comes to land and its landing gear is lowered.
One theory is that the boy had managed to stow away inside the aircraft for the first leg of the journey, but had got into the landing gear at Stansted.
The 250-mile flight to Maastricht would have been at a lower altitude making conditions more survivable. But aviation experts have said that it is still miraculous he has made it out alive.