MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti) – Russian investigators will not open a criminal case into the death of a man found in the undercarriage bay of a plane at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport in June, an Investigative Committee spokesman said Friday.
Technicians discovered the man’s dead body after spotting bloodstains on the landing gear of an I-Fly airlines plane that had just arrived in Moscow from Rimini, Italy. A passport found in his pocket identified him as 22-year-old Georgian national Giorgio Abduladze.
“No injuries were found on his body,” Oleg Tushmalov, the head of the Investigative Committee's Moscow transport department, said, concluding that the man died of hypothermia during the flight. An autopsy found alcohol in the man’s blood, he added.
Abduladze was wearing only a T-shirt and shorts, and a preliminary investigation suggested his body had been on the plane for at least four days and made several flights. Officials speculated he had crawled inside the wheel well in order to fly for free.
The Italian authorities claimed it was impossible he could have gotten onto the plane at Rimini airport. Its director Claudio Fiume told RIA Novosti that the body was found in a section of the plane that only licensed staff have access to, which suggested that the stowaway might have hopped on in a third country between charter flights.
Cases of people attempting to fly for free by stowing away outside an aircraft's passenger cabin are not unknown, but the freezing temperatures and lack of oxygen at cruising altitude mean doing so is almost invariably fatal.
The body of 19-year-old Filipp Yurchenko, believed to have died from anoxia and freezing temperatures, was discovered in the undercarriage bay of a plane operated by Russian airline Vladivostok Asia in 2009.
Not every airliner stowaway dies, however. A 14-year-old runaway from a Siberian orphanage survived a 300 km (186 mile) flight inside an An-24 turboprop airliner’s landing gear in 2010.