Sources say the stowaway teen from San Jose passed not one, not two, but three pre-flight inspections.
New images show the boy's footprint on the wheel of the aircraft where he stepped to climb up into the wheel well.
Investigators believe the boy climbed into that space six hours before takeoff, then spent more than five hours in the air.
Hawaiian Airlines couldn't confirm to us on Tuesday that the usual exterior inspection was performed before the flight. But the company said the protocol includes a visual review of any compartment accessible from the ground including the wheel well.
Alison Croyle, spokeswoman for Hawaiian Airlines, said cockpit crews also conduct exterior walkarounds at the gate. Croyle said the wheel well is not included in this checklist, adding that at this time, the wheel well doors are closed and the area is not visible.
Former Aloha Airlines pilot Bruce Mayes has flown both military and commercial airplanes for 40 years. He said he has conducted thousands of pre-flight inspections.
"The focal point for pre-flight inspection is airworthiness and safety of the aircraft," Mayes said. "That's the function of both the flight crew and the ground crew. And as long as the team is working together, the safety of the aircraft will be assured."
The FBI said the boy did not pose a safety threat. But what if it was a terrorist instead of a runaway? That's the frightening scenario that has airports and airlines officials reviewing their security.
Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, said they are in communication with Hawaiian Airlines. However, there is no formal investigation at this time.
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