London

Romanian stowaway found at Heathrow freed after caution

Runway at Heathrow Airport
Image caption The stowaway was arrested after landing at Heathrow Airport

A Romanian stowaway who flew from Vienna to Heathrow Airport by hiding in a private jet's wheel compartment has been freed by police without charge.

The 20-year-old man was arrested when he fell out of the rear wheel cavity as the jet landed at the west London airport on Sunday evening.

The man was freed after a caution from Metropolitan Police, as the UK Border Agency is not seeking to deport him.

He had bruises and hypothermia from outside temperatures as low as -41C.

But experts said the stowaway survived the flight because the plane flew at a low altitude to avoid stormy weather.

The plane belonged to a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates and had been standing empty on the tarmac at Schwechat airport in Vienna, since Thursday. It flew without passengers to Heathrow.

The man apparently told British authorities that he got under a fence at Schwechat and climbed into the undercarriage of the first plane he saw without knowing its destination.

'Very lucky'

A Met spokesman said the man was arrested for stowing away in an aircraft, contrary to the Air Navigation Order 2009, but was cautioned and freed with no further action being taken.

It is understood that the UK Border Agency is not seeking to deport him.

Head of border force for the UK Border Agency, Brodie Clark, said: "This individual was apprehended as soon as he arrived in the UK. Full identity checks were carried out.

"We work with counterparts overseas to use the latest technology at our ports and check people against a range of watchlists to prevent those who pose us harm from coming to the UK."

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the man was "very lucky" to be alive.

He said: "If they don't find the right part to stow away, they can be crushed when the undercarriage comes up.

"Because of the altitude and temperatures during the flight, there is a severe risk to them through exposure and lack of oxygen.

"If that doesn't kill them, then they could be unconscious when the aircraft descends, and that can mean that when the undercarriage opens again, they will fall out."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites