JAKARTA, Indonesia – Aviation authorities are questioning a man they suspect stowed away in the wheel well of a jetliner for a free flight in Indonesia, officials said Thursday.
Mario Stevan Ambarita, 21, survived a nearly two-hour flight at high altitude from Pekanbaru, Riau's provincial capital, to the national capital, Jakarta. Ground crew found him wobbling out after the plane landed Tuesday at Sukarno-Hatta airport and rushed him to an airport clinic for treatment.
The Garuda Indonesia's flight had departed from Pekanbaru's Sultan Syarif Kasim airport and flown at an altitude of up to 40,000 feet with freezing temperatures and low oxygen.
He was flown back to Pekanbaru, where he admitted he climbed a 8-foot fence and sneaked in while the plane was on the runway preparing to take off, Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Adravida Barata said.
The man confessed he prepared for the stowaway flight for one year, including learning from the Internet, Barata said.
Joko Muriadmojo, Airport Authority Operational Director in Pekanbaru, said Ambarita was being questioned by ministry investigators.
"The man's deed has endangered flight and aviation safety," Muariatmojo said but refused to elaborate.
Barata said a manager responsible for security at the Pekanbaru airport has been removed due to the incident.
Media reports said Ambarita would be charged with violating the 2009 Civil Aviation Law, which carried a maximum one year in jail, for endangering flight safety.
Barata said the incident should be considered a lesson on airport security in Indonesia, a vast archipelago where most of the more than 400 airports are just airstrips.