Stowaway in Emirates flight to Dubai sparks concern on airline security

Published on : Wednesday, June 1, 2016

emirates_BHX 1_tcm233-2557975It was like a page straight out of a Jeffry Archer novel; a Chinese teenager hid inside the cargo hold of an Emirates passenger jet and flew from Shanghai to Dubai unnoticed.



The stowaway was found by officials at the Dubai airport and was handed to Dubai police. The Emirates Flight EK303 had unknowingly let the boy, who said that he was ‘very comfortable’ in the cargo hold, board.



The boy had heard from some sources that even beggars in Dubai made a lot of money and that is the reason the he was motivated to take this chance. The 16 years had not eaten anything in the nine hour flight. The boy claimed that he had jumped over the fence at the Shanghai airport and climbed in the cargo when the security guard was looking away. Emirates spokesperson said that they are cooperating with the Dubai police authorities.



On March 7 2016 a stowaway was found alive in the cargo hold of a passenger jet from Ethiopia. The man was found in a freight container after the Ethiopian Airlines plane landed at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. Stockholm police said the man was “exhausted but alive” and applied for asylum in Sweden when he was discovered. They said they passed his asylum request to immigration officials while they launched an investigation into suspected human smuggling.



According to experts, cargo doors are easy to open but once inside a person cannot close and lock the door. Someone from outside should do that. Dedicated freight flights have chances of stowaway’s easily finding access in them. But now with terrorist movements on the high, airport security has become more complex and stringent for stowaways do seek an opportunity. Most stowaways are caught before they plan to take a plunge. Sometimes the flight crew does not inspect or open the unit load device (ULD) since it is the responsibility of the ground crew. As once the flight is loaded from end to end there is no way to get from the front to the back. The situation is airtight and the chances of survival are slim owing to the lack of oxygen.



There are X-ray and infrared machines in addition to video surveillance cameras everywhere in cargo hangers. Electronic scales check each ULD and pallet for weight. Any discrepancy exceeding “X” amount of pounds lbs is inspected and double checked. In such cases an escape for stowaway is next to impossible.



At times Ground Cargo handlers are responsible in assisting stowaways in the ULD. With security measures greatly tightened the stowaway will be found at some point. But in flight like the Emirates such incidences can be greatly damaging for the reputation of the airline, specially when plane highjack and bomb attacks on airlines cannot be ruled out.

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