Aircraft landing gear

Emirates B777 freighter death and a wall of silence

HOW acutely disappointing it is to discover that someone doesn’t really care after all, writes Nigel Tomkins.

It’s particularly sad when, surely in an act of acute personal desperation, an unidentified man stows away to his tragic, excruciating, lonely death inside an airliner’s freezing landing gear housing – and the entire horrific event goes officially unnoticed.

The undercarriage compartment of an aircraft is not equipped with heating, oxygen, or air pressurisation, all of which are crucial for survival, particularly as the aircraft’s altitude soars.

At 18,000ft hypoxia sets in, causing weakness, tremors, light-headedness and visual failure, say experts. By 22,000ft the stowaway will struggle to maintain consciousness as blood oxygen levels drop. At 33,000ft the lungs require artificial assistance to function normally.

Other risks include being crushed when the landing gear retracts; falling out when compartment doors re-open; hypothermia (temperatures can drop to minus 30 degrees); and acidosis – the build-up of acid in body fluids, which causes coma and death.

On the face of it, Emirates is a caring airline, wooing customers into believing it is a modern, humanitarian, warm, friendly and compassionate organisation.

The airline’s ubiquitous, glossy advertising shouts glamour, comfort, reliability, product transparency and – above all – friendliness. [Further content on this page is protected for Members only. Visit our Subscription page ]

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