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Stowaway clung to wheel of jet at 25,000ft

A young Romanian risked death stowing away in the undercarriage of a jumbo jet to Britain despite being entitled to come into the country legally.

The 20-year-old was discovered by security staff at Heathrow after falling out of the rear wheel compartment.

The plane made its hour and a half journey from the Austrian capital Vienna and arrived at Heathrow on Sunday night.

Upon landing at Heathrow he fell out of the gear's cavity and was caught by security.

The young man was said to be "in incredibly good shape" despite his ordeal.

Last night an official at the Civil Aviation Authority said he was lucky to be alive with planes usually flying in freezing temperatures.

"A lot of times stowaways die from hypothermia and lack of oxygen. Those travelling long distances who do survive are often unconscious for a large portion of the flight, and that is the only reason they survive because their body slows down.

"Furthermore if you are not in the right bit of the wheel well you can be crushed when the undercarriage comes up, which quite often happens," he explained. Since joining the EU in 1997, Romanian citizens, in the words of the UK Border Agency, "have every right" to come to the UK.

The man, according to Austrian police, had been hoping to find work in Britain, so he crawled under the wire of the airport fence and climbed into the landing gear of a private jet belonging to a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates.