Stowaway Child Found Lifeless In Air France Undercarriage

Unfortunately, the bad news continues to pour in. Earlier today, a ten-year-old child was found lifeless in the undercarriage well of an Air France aircraft. The flight had originated in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Air France, Boeing 777, Stowaway
Tragically a child was lost as a stowaway onboard an Air France Boeing 777 this morning. Photo: Air France

Unfortunately, every now and again we hear a story of a hopeful stowaway who didn’t quite beat the high odds against them. The most recent major incident that immediately comes to mind is that of a man who fell from the Heathrow approach path around half a year ago. Despite this person not suffering the indignity of falling hundreds of feet. It is made all the more tragic, however, given the child’s age.

The details

The unfortunate discovery was made early this morning as a flight from Abidjan landed in Paris. The flight, AF703, was operated by an Air France Boeing 777 registered as F-GSQY. AF703 departed from Abidjan at 22:56, around 20 minutes behind schedule. It then quickly climbed to 33,000 feet, before reaching a maximum altitude of 38,000 feet before landing.

In a tweet sent to another Twitter user, Air France confirmed the incident that had happened. The airline also commented:

The company expresses its compassion and deplores this human drama. An investigation is underway

Why don’t stowaways usually make it?

Unfortunately, stowaways often don’t make it. The reason is that the odds are usually stacked against them. If they manage to get onto the aircraft, they have several serious risks to contend with. The first comes with when the landing gear closes. If the stowaway manages to hold on while the aircraft takes off, they have to avoid being crushed by the gear retracting.

Air France, Boeing 777, Stowaway
The flight from Abidjan reached a height of 38,000 feet. Photo: Air France

The second major obstacle to overcome is the climate. Few will survive this. The gear well, where most stowaways hide is unpressurised, unlike the cabin. This means that the stowaways are up against extreme cold and low oxygen concentrations. They are likely to be unconscious well before reaching cruising altitude. Even at just flight level 250, useful consciousness will only last from 3-5 minutes. At 35,000 feet this falls to just 30 seconds to one minute. There are very few known cases of successful stowaways.

Simple Flying gives its condolences to all those affected by the incident.