Various Taiwanese media outlets are reporting on an attempted stowaway incident that occurred on November 2nd at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE). According to the Taipei Times, a man entered the restricted zone around the airport and ran towards a China Airlines Boeing 737 – Flight CI28. The aircraft was on a runway awaiting takeoff. Police say that this is the first such incident in the history of the airport.
The man ran towards the 737 and made an attempt to climb its landing gear. According to Sam Chui, the pilot of Asiana Airlines flight OZ712 spotted the attempted stowaway and informed the control tower immediately. Following this, the China Airlines pilot aborted the flight, turning off the plane’s engines while airport police made their way to the aircraft.
The aircraft involved was performing Flight CI28, departing for Palau at 1:35pm. According to police, all 149 passengers aboard the flight were placed on another aircraft that departed at 4:20pm.
Below is a recording of the Asiana Airlines pilot notifying air traffic control of the man:
Likely aware that he had been spotted once engines powered down, the man dropped from the landing gear and ran across the tarmac. However, he was apprehended by police shortly after.
The Taipei Times reports that the man, described as Belorussian or Russian, is refusing to speak to police. However, police are making attempts to gather more information about the individual using fingerprint and retina scans. Strangely, police say that there is no record of the man passing through immigration to enter Taiwan. Furthermore, no existing criminal record can be found. This leads police to entertain the possibility that he entered the country illegally.
Taiwan English News reports that the man is suspected of being deaf and/or mute, having said nothing to police nor a Russian translator. None of the sources we examined explained what leads police to suspect the man is Belorussian or Russian. At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of a bag containing a reflective vest, several barbecue lighters and “an incomprehensible drawing”. However, no identifying documents were in his possession.
The year in stowaways
It’s already been an interesting year for stowaways and attempted stowaways in the news. On June 30th a mystery stowaway fell 3,500ft to his death from the landing gear of a Kenya Airways flight, into a garden in South London. In fact, photos of the deceased were released almost two weeks ago as police attempt to identify the individual.
Earlier last month, a woman was able to board a Delta flight without a boarding pass or identification. Once officials were alerted to this, law enforcement and airline staff intervened to get the woman off the plane. The entire incident caused a total delay of three hours to the flight.
In one of the more bizarre incidents, a man came running out of the bushes in Lagos, Nigeria towards a departing flight. Carrying a suitcase, the man was able to climb on to the wing of a taxiing Boeing 737. After being arrested, the man claimed that he wanted to go to Ghana. However, he did not say how he managed to gain access to the runway.
Few stowaway stories end successfully with the majority resulting in arrest. For the ones who are able to make it undetected into the landing gear of the aircraft, the result is often death. This is because the air outside the cabin is extremely cold and low in oxygen.
We contacted China Airlines and asked for a comment on the November 2nd incident. However, no response has been received at the time of publishing this article.