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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Stowaway Dies on Rome Flight

An 18-year-old boy from Tver has been found frozen to death in the belly of an aircraft that had just returned to Moscow from a round-trip flight to Rome.


Safety inspectors at Moscow's Sheremetyevo-2 international airport discovered Eduard Busygin's curled up, frozen body while checking the Airbus A-310 plane's landing gear last Saturday.


Aeroflot officials said forensics experts concluded Busygin died from decompression sickness, a condition caused by a quick drop in atmospheric pressure, which leads to blood boiling inside a person's veins.


Ordinary passengers feel no effect from rapid altitude changes, because air pressure is artificially maintained inside the aircraft passenger cabin as the plane gains and loses altitude.


But in the landing gear cavity, Busygin was open to the elements, including low pressure, rarified oxygen levels and extreme cold.


Sheremetyevo engineers who check Aeroflot's Airbus fleet said their only explanation for the freak incident is that Busygin snuck into the plane before it departed from Moscow. Security on the tarmac at Russia's airports is unusually lax.


Forensic reports said Busygin died shortly after takeoff. In Rome, technicians must have failed to properly inspect the jumbo jet before it departed back for Moscow, said Nicholai Sveridov, the chief engineer in charge of checking A-310 airplanes at Sheremetyevo


Investigators said they hope to find out why the teenager from Tver, about 200 kilometers north of Moscow, decided on the risky voyage once they talk with his parents, who have not yet been found, according to Segodnya, which first reported the case.


"This isn't a frequent occurrence," Sveridov said. "But why does the press have to jump on every little thing that goes wrong at Aeroflot?"


Officials told Segodnya that Busygin's case was the first such airplane stowaway attempt in the past 10 years.


"That's the first one I've ever heard of in my three years here," confirmed Dennis Cooper, a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration representative in Moscow.


Anna Melnikova, an Aeroflot representative in Rome, seemed flustered and declined to confirm that Busygin's body ever traveled to Italy. "Lies," Melnikova said. "We don't accept any rabbits here," she added, using the Russian slang term for the word "stowaway."


Melnikova said it was impossible for Aeroflot technicians in Rome not to have checked the airplane's landing gear before takeoff.


Last November, a joint Russian-FAA investigation of air safety here concluded that "Russian aviation minimally met world safety standards."