A man, believed to have been hiding in the undercarriage of a Kenya Airways jet, has dropped to his death as the aircraft approached Heathrow airport after a long-haul flight from Nairobi.
London’s Metropolitan Police said the body of a suspected stowaway was found in a residential garden in the city’s Clapham area on June 30.
Investigators are working to establish the identity of the man who appeared to have fallen from the plane, which had travelled almost 7000 kilometres.
Police said “a bag, water and some food” were discovered in the plane’s landing gear compartment when it arrived at the airport after a nine-hour flight.
A post-mortem will be held to determine the exact cause of death.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious. Enquiries are underway to establish the full circumstances,” a statement from police read.
The incident is being treated as a sudden death, according to Kenya Airways, who called the death “unfortunate” and said it was co-operating with British and Kenyan authorities.
Clapham, where the body was found, is an inner-city suburb some 20 kilometres from Heathrow airport. Planes heading for Heathrow frequently pass over the suburb at a height of more than 900 metres.
Stowing away in a plane’s undercarriage is exceptionally dangerous.
Experts believe roughly three-quarters of stowaways do not survive because of the extreme cold and lack of oxygen as the plane reaches cruising altitude.
Though not common, stowaways have in the past plunged to the streets of London as planes lowered their landing gear.
In September 2012, a 30-year old from Mozambique, Jose Matada, died after falling from the undercarriage of a Heathrow-bound flight from Angola.
He had no identity papers on him upon being found at Mortlake in Richmond upon Thames.
His shocked mother hadn’t realised he had died until his family noticed a story in their local paper, as they’d assumed he was still working as a housekeeper in South Africa.