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Airline passenger held after storming fl

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Nov 25, 2001
Total Time
Airline passenger held after storming flight deck

Steven Morris
Thursday July 11, 2002
The Guardian

There was panic on board a jumbo jet flying to London yesterday as a passenger attempted to break into the cockpit. Fearing he was a terrorist, other passengers leapt up to help the crew of the South African Airways flight from Cape Town.
Though it is now believed the man, who is British, had no terrorist links but was suffering a panic attack, the incident refocused attention on security.

The airline's policy of keeping the cockpit door locked at all times, introduced after September 11, appears to have worked. But questions may be asked about how he managed to get near the flight deck.

The drama began six hours after take-off and as most of the passengers slept. The man, 35, was sitting in economy class at the back of the Boeing 747-400. He asked a member of the cabin crew about the cockpit, which is on an upper deck.

He then dashed for the stairs, followed by crew members. He got to the top deck, ran down the aisle and tried to shoulder-charge the door. But crew members and two passengers jumped on him and handcuffed him to a seat, where he stayed for the remaining five hours of the flight.

A doctor on board examined him and suggested he might have had drug withdrawal symptoms and a panic attack. He gave him tranquillisers.

At Heathrow the man was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

An airline spokesman said the 317 people on the plane were never in danger.