SA Airways has launched an internal investigation after a man was found dead on one of its planes when it landed in the United States, spokesman Tlali Tlali said on Sunday.
“SAA will offer its full co-operation to the US authorities and/or law enforcement agencies in an effort to ensure that a thorough investigation into this incident is carried out as expeditiously as possible,” he said in a statement.
On Saturday, a man's body was found in the wheel well after it landed at Dulles International Airport in Washington.
Tlali said the body was found in the centre gear wheel well section of flight SA 207 which left Johannesburg on Wednesday, flying to Washington via Dakar, Senegal.
“Once at the Dulles International Airport... it was discovered that there was a fault with the landing gear of the aircraft... and the aircraft had to receive attention,” Tlali said.
“It led to SAA dispatching its engineers and technicians to the US to identify the cause and to fix the fault on the aircraft. During the process of conducting tests on the aircraft, SAA engineers discovered a human body in the centre wheel well.”
The man's identity or nationality were not known.
“We regret any loss of human life and are deeply concerned about the suspicious circumstances surrounding this incident and for that reason we have initiated an SAA internal investigation into the whole matter”.
In August 2012, a man who scaled the Cape Town International Airport fence was found dead inside the landing gear of a British Airways plane when it landed in London the next morning. Doctors believed he froze to death.
A month later, a North African stowaway fell from a plane into a car in the suburb of Mortlake, London. It was believed he froze to death, and fell out of the aircraft's landing gear. - Sapa