By Louis Ibah
The body of a suspected stowaway was yesterday found in the main wheel well (the under carriage compartment) of Air Arik Airbus 330-200 aircraft at the Oliver Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The aircraft operated the scheduled Lagos-Johannesburg flight that departed the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos at 3:55pm on Tuesday and arrived in Johannesburg shortly before 11pm.
Engineers of South African Airways Technical facility at the airport where the aircraft was scheduled for a routine maintenance check, discovered the body during inspection.
“Investigations are ongoing to determine how the stowaway found his way into the aircraft’s main wheel well,” said Arik Air spokesman, Olabanji Ola. This was the third incident in the airline’s history of an alleged stowaway found dead in Arik’s plane. The last incident was reported in March, 2015 when a suspected Nigerian stowaway was found dead on the Arik Air aircraft at the Lagos airport while engineers were checking the plane’s preparation for a flight from Lagos to Johannesburg.
In October, 2012, another body was found on an Arik’s Lagos-New York flight.
In September 2013, a 14-year-old boy, Daniel Oikhena, stowed away in an Arik Air Benin City-Lagos flight. The boy, who hid himself in the tyre compartment, however, miraculously survived the flight.
According to him, he thought the flight was America-bound from the Benin Airport, and had hoped to achieve his life ambition of a trip to the United States.
Stowaway persons usually have the backup of airline officials as they can’t successfully operate in isolation.