WGA statement on detained MD-11 freighter
17 / 02 / 2016
Western Global Airlines (WGA) has issued a statement after one of the US-based lessor’s MD-11 freighters was detained at Harare airport in Zimbabwe, Africa, when the body of a stowaway was found onboard.
WGA said that the freighter is leased to Network Airline Management, a logistics provider, which was engaged “to deliver a diplomatic shipment of South African currency from Munich, Germany, to Durban, South Africa on behalf of the South African Reserve Bank”.
WGA added that “all necessary documentation for the flight and its cargo was in order and in compliance with international law”.
The company added: “The aircraft departed Munich, Germany’s airport on February 13, 2016, with a crew of three pilots and a mechanic as well as two passengers travelling as couriers for the diplomatic shipment.
“The aircraft made a refueling stop at Zimbabwe’s Harare International Airport approximately nine hours later. During the refueling process, ground crew attending the aircraft noticed unusual streaking on the nose gear and upon further investigation, a deceased male was discovered in a compartment adjacent to the wheelwell.
“At present, the identity or nationality of the deceased is not known. It is not clear when or how the deceased accessed the aircraft and Western Global is working with authorities to back trace the aircraft’s route of travel.”
WGA said that there has been no indication that stowaway’s presence on the flight is related to the company or to the specific cargo shipment of currency.
It added: “The company has confirmed that its normal service, safety and security inspections – which meet or exceed all security, maintenance and operational standards – were performed by its maintenance personnel prior to the flight and that cockpit crews conducted exterior walk-arounds prior to departure.
“The area where the body was found is an area not visible to these inspections and there is no indication the stowaway’s presence affected the operation of the aircraft.”
Chief executive Jim Neff said: “We are saddened that a person has lost his life by stowing aboard one of our cargo aircraft. As compared to other forms of transportation, stowaways on airplanes are rare, but almost always result in fatality. In most cases airport security prevents this from happening but it should never be attempted for any reason.”
Neff added: “We have been working closely with the Zimbabwean authorities as they fully investigate this situation. We appreciate their professionalism and the care they have shown our crew, our cargo and our aircraft.
“Along with our customer, Network Airline Management, we express our condolences and support the efforts of the Zimbabwean government.
“We also appreciate the dedication of our crew, the patience of the South African government while awaiting its shipment and the engagement of the US Embassy in Zimbabwe.
“We are in continuous contact with our crew; when cleared to do so, they will complete the last leg of this charter.”