Police say man, believed to be in 30s, could have fallen thousands of feet
Found on car parked on road in affluent London suburb of Mortlake
Street is around 10 miles away from Heathrow Airport and on flight path
Aviation expert believes he froze to death; it appears body fell out of hold
Man thought to be from North Africa and suffered multiple injuries
Residents described 'monstrous bang' and body parts flying 20ft away
Police were investigating today whether a man whose body was found in a residential street in London was a stowaway who fell from a plane as it prepared to land at Heathrow.
The body of the man was discovered in Portman Avenue, Mortlake, south west London, yesterday morning.
Locals in Mortlake, south west London, said the man had suffered multiple injuries and parts of his body had flown up to 20ft away ‘like a melon being whacked’ - but nobody else was injured.
Billy Watson, 26, who lives opposite where the man fell, saw the body ‘all twisted up’ and believed it belonged to someone of Albanian or Moroccan origin.
He said: ‘His head was twisted one way and one of his legs was the wrong way round. His hip had popped out and one of his arms was behind him the wrong way.
‘Bits of his body were just everywhere, and the police were putting their cones by them. The bits had spread about 20 to 30ft away and there was a bit of him in front of my car.
‘He was wearing blue jeans, white trainers and a dark jumper. There was a big pool of blood coming from his head. No-one was around him when I first saw him.
Richard Taylor, from the Civil Aviation Authority, said this kind of incident was not the first of its kind and added that there was very little chance of survival for stowaways.
He said: ‘The temperatures in the undercarriage reach -40C (-40F) at high altitudes, so the person has basically frozen to death. There is virtually no chance of someone surviving that.’
‘It is a very dangerous environment. Very often people get crushed to death by the landing gear when it retracts. It is surprising that people still do it. I guess they don’t realise they have very little chance of surviving.’
He added: 'When the landing gear comes down at the other end, a couple of miles from the runway and about 2,000ft in the air, if there is a person who had died they would fall out.'
The flight path over Portman Avenue where the body was found, around 10 miles from Heathrow, is where the planes opens their undercarriage and lower wheels ready for landing.
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said officers were called to Portman Avenue at about 7.55am yesterday “following reports of a dead body”.
She said: “The death is currently being treated as unexplained. A postmortem examination will be held in due course. Inquiries are ongoing to establish the male’s identity.”