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Old 27 February 2018, 03:53 AM
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Airplane 2 stowaways fall to their deaths from plane's landing gear in Ecuador

Two presumed stowaways died Monday in Ecuador after they fell from the landing gear of a New York-bound plane. The airport in the coastal city of Guayaquil had to close for 90 minutes while the two bodies were removed from the runway.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ecuador...-landing-gear/
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  #2  
Old 27 February 2018, 11:41 AM
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Airplane

It's amazing that some stowaways actually survive that kind of trip! Obviously this pair did not, but it amazes me that anyone would even attempt it.
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Old 27 February 2018, 01:17 PM
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One theory is that they go into a type of suspended animation similar to children who fall into icy water.
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Old 27 February 2018, 02:28 PM
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So...these fellows got on the plane in Ecuador and fell out of the plane in Ecuador? After the plane got high enough that the fall killed them?

I'm finding the sequence of events a little hard to follow from that article.

Seaboe
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Old 27 February 2018, 02:37 PM
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I was just in Ecuador last week as I have a daughter who lives there.

It is not uncommon for flights to go through Quayaquil on the way into or out of the country. My guess would be that they boarded the flight in Quito, or another city, and fell out when it put the landing gear down to land in Quayaquil for a scheduled stop.
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Old 27 February 2018, 03:17 PM
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It is possible that they fell from the aircraft on takeoff as the landing gear were being retracted. Depending on a number of factors, an airliner can be 50-150 ft in the air when the gear are retracted, certainly high enough for a fatal fall. Plus, the aircraft is going to be traveling at over 150 knots, even without the fall height, hitting the ground at that speed could be fatal all by itself.
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Old 27 February 2018, 04:32 PM
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I was going to say something similar: jumping out of a moving car can easily be fatal, so falling out of a moving plane that's traveling much faster is going to be a lot worse.
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Old 27 February 2018, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker View Post
So...these fellows got on the plane in Ecuador and fell out of the plane in Ecuador? After the plane got high enough that the fall killed them?
Given the stated facts, my assumption would be that the stowaways climbed into the landing gear well and were resting on top of the normally-closed inboard door, unaware that what they were sitting on was in fact a door. When the pilot initiated gear retraction, the inboard door opened to admit the landing gear, spilling the stowaways out of the gear well in the process.

--Bob K.
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Old 27 February 2018, 05:47 PM
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I'm amazed that more of the people who attempt this don't end up falling out during takeoff. Besides what Bob said, it can't be easy to hold on when you're on the outside of the plane traveling at 150+ knots without any sort of restraint (although as I type this I wonder if some of the people who do this attempt to fashion some sort of improvised "seat belt").
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Old 27 February 2018, 05:53 PM
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I assume desperation is involved.
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Old 27 February 2018, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
Given the stated facts, my assumption would be that the stowaways climbed into the landing gear well and were resting on top of the normally-closed inboard door, unaware that what they were sitting on was in fact a door. When the pilot initiated gear retraction, the inboard door opened to admit the landing gear, spilling the stowaways out of the gear well in the process.

--Bob K.
I wonder what measures planes typically have in place to prevent this kind of entry? Given the severity is likely death, I'd probably recommend a sensor (like a motion sensor or something) in order to alert the pilot. Though I suppose it may be very low frequency, assume such events are usually widely reported.
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Old 27 February 2018, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NobleHunter View Post
I wonder what measures planes typically have in place to prevent this kind of entry? Given the severity is likely death, I'd probably recommend a sensor (like a motion sensor or something) in order to alert the pilot. Though I suppose it may be very low frequency, assume such events are usually widely reported.
***Full disclosure: I'm not an engineer, aero or otherwise. But I do design, develop, and fly small aircraft. That requires a certain familiarity with the full spectrum of aeronautic principles and rules. ***

I'm not extremely knowledgeable about airliners, but I am pretty sure that there are no such sensors.

Further, I appreciate that your suggestion is well-intentioned, but I think it would be implemented only if required by law, and even then not without some resistance from both the airlines and the airplane manufacturers.

The main issue is that it adds another increment of complexity to aircraft that are already very complicated. It adds weight, which is never welcome, because it adds fuel consumption and subtracts range and payload. It would be one more thing to maintain. And when it misbehaves, every false-positive would represent something like a 15-minute delay costing thousands of dollars.

As it stands, there are already (or are supposed to be, at least) ramp security measures intended to protect aircraft and stowaways from each other. Things like security guards and perimeter fences. And the pre-flight walkaround (I think First Officers still do that) is supposed to include a peek into the gear well for foreign objects or beings.

--Bob K.
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  #13  
Old 27 February 2018, 07:38 PM
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Existing mitigations may be sufficient but it's my job to make well-intentioned but impractical suggestions, albeit not for airliners. I'm used to dealing with a risk profile where any plausible chance of killing someone is a red flag and we only have to consider that the end-user is an idiot not desperate.

False positives are the bane of simple suggestions, which to my mind is a better reason for the limits of acceptable risk than weight or complexity.
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Old 27 February 2018, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoKu View Post
As it stands, there are already (or are supposed to be, at least) ramp security measures intended to protect aircraft and stowaways from each other.
To expand upon this: People hiding in wheel wells is a very small slice of the problem of being able to walk right up to a plane without anyone noticing.
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  #15  
Old 28 February 2018, 12:59 AM
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Airplane

To clarify: Everything you do to an airplane to make it heavier decreases the safety of the people on board, and also that of the people in the immediate vicinity of where it operates. Every extra ounce makes it harder to accelerate and decelerate, increases the stall speed, and decreases the range and loiter time. Not much, but it does accumulate. So the safety benefits of any added mass must be carefully evaluated lest it subtract more benefit than it adds.
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  #16  
Old 28 February 2018, 01:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker View Post
So...these fellows got on the plane in Ecuador and fell out of the plane in Ecuador? After the plane got high enough that the fall killed them?
I think that's the going theory - they got on at that airport and fell out while it was taking off. The plane had come in from Peru so I guess they probably weren't from the previous.
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