CHANGI Airport had an unexpected passenger arrival on Thursday night when a Palestinian man dropped out of the wheel well of a Singapore Airlines jetairliner at Changi Airport.
The man, Osama R M Shublaq, is said to have been a stowaway aboard SIA Flight SQ 119 that flew in from Kuala Lumpur at around 10:56pm.
He stunned ground crew who were waiting to serve the twin-engine Boeing 777-200 after he fell out, apparently dizzy from a lack of oxygen, from the area where the front landing gear is stowed. The height from the wheel well, where the landing gear strut and two nose wheels are stowed during flight, to the ground is about 2.4 metres.
The stowaway was taken away by Singapore police.
The SQ airliner had just taxiied to Gate F33 at Changi Airport's Terminal Two after a 55-minute flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Aviation industry sources said they were surprised the man survived his ordeal.
They said the flight's short duration could have saved him as the airliner does not have to ascend to the same height as passenger planes on long haul journeys. Furthermore, as the wheel well is not pressurised, the lower flight altitude could have helped the stoway to breathe easier, as compared to an airliner flying in the thin air of around 35,000 to 40,000 feet -- the cruising altitude for most passenger jets.
Malaysian airport authorities told The Straits Times that they are reviewing how the man could have breached airport security and smuggled himself aboard the plane.
Dato' Azmi Murad, Senior General Manager, Operations, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, said:"We were told by Singapore Airlines this morning that there was a stowaway on SQ 119 from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. We will assist and cooperate with Singapore authorities to investigate on how it happened."