For the uninitiated like me, a stowaway is defined as:

stow·a·way /ˈstoʊəˌweɪ/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[stoh-uh-wey] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun a person who hides aboard a ship or airplane in order to obtain free transportation or elude pursuers.

and not what I thought it was – something that moves the plane onto the runway =P However, the person was found in a cargo plane and not a passenger plane – the difference in that, there’s no barrier between the cargo and the cockpit. It was not known how the person managed to sneak into the plane, but this probably hints of a security lapse. For me, I am hoping that this does not happen on a passenger plane for 2 reasons:

  1. Quote obviously, all the passengers’ lives may be in danger since we do not know if the stowaway(s) have any other motives
  2. This will give the airports an additional reason to up their apparently insufficient security measures (and why is it that the passengers have to take the full brunt of it? are they going to bill us their electricity bill as well?)

I would think that it’s an airport issue as opposed to an airline issue – or perhaps both, since the pilots didn’t notice him until 1 hour into the flight. I guess both the airport and airline have some explaining to do. The times are different now, especially after 9/11.

ANOTHER stowaway has been found on a Singapore Airlines (SIA) plane, the second in a month.

The unauthorised passenger managed to get his way into the cabin area of a cargo plane which was flying from Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates – about 30 minutes’ drive from Dubai – to Amsterdam, Holland on Tuesday.

The Straits Times understands that he was caught sitting in one of the six seats, just several metres behind the pilots, after an hour into the seven-hour flight, which was forced to turn back.

It is believed that the first officer of the plane was going to the galley to prepare a meal when he saw the “burly Indian man”.

The man could not speak English, did not appear drunk and was calm during the flight. He was served food and drink and was not restrained during the flight.

As a precaution, however, the pilots returned to Sharjah Airport, where the man was taken away by the police there, said an SIA spokesman when contacted. The pilots were concerned that the man would turn violent if he “saw sand instead of tulips”, said sources, who added that the shade next to man’s seat was pulled down so that the stowaway would not know where the plane was heading.

On Oct 11, a Palestinian fell out of the nose wheel well of an SIA passenger plane at Changi Airport after it arrived from Kuala Lumpur.

Tuesday’s incident raises security concerns for pilots of cargo planes because unlike passenger jets, there is no cockpit door protecting them.

Investigations into the incident are underway.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 9th November 2007



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