Terrifying moment: a passenger tries to enter the cockpit
Witnesses said a flight attendant used a coffee maker to stop the passenger in his tracks as the American Airlines plane was hijacked. The trip from Los Angeles to Washington DC was forced to land in Kansas City on Sunday.
Mouaz Moustafa recalled an attendant yelling at a crew member to turn on the lights before the plane began to lose altitude.
He said a number of passengers rushed to the front of the plane in an effort to help restrain the passenger and prevent him from breaking into the cockpit.
Mr Moustafa said: ‘It was as if the plane was in freefall and many feared the worst because people were not fully aware of what was happening.
Pictures and videos from inside the plane show the restrained man and FBI investigators talking to other passengers.
Passengers look at a man being held on an American Airlines flight.
A man talks to passengers after the ‘unruly’ passenger was restrained.
Karen Alston was also on the plane. She said she was watching a movie when the lights above her head suddenly came on and she saw a number of people rushing down the aisle to the front of the plane.
She told The Daily Beast: “When people started to stand up I knew something was wrong.”
Another passenger, Jake Smith, said he was starting to head for the lavatory when he saw a flight attendant running full speed down the aisle.
After the flight was diverted, the passengers were re-booked on a new flight to Washington DC.
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American Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
An American Airlines plane takes off from Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington
An American Airlines spokesperson told the Daily Mail: “American Airlines Flight 1775 with service from Los Angeles (LAX) to Washington, DC (DCA) has been diverted to Kansas City (MCI) due to an unruly passenger.
“The flight landed safely at MCI at 2:28 p.m. local time and law enforcement was asked to meet the arriving flight.
“We are grateful to our crew members, who are constantly dedicated to the safety and care of our customers and who handled the circumstances with the utmost skill and professionalism.”
Kansas City Aviation Department spokesman Joe McBride said a passenger was interfering with the flight crew, adding that the FBI is now handling the incident.
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The FBI said in a statement: “The flight was diverted due to an unruly passenger interfering with the flight crew.
“The individual has been taken into custody. No further information is available at this time.”
Meanwhile, airlines and leasing companies controlling billions of dollars worth of passenger planes are drawing up contingency plans for a business freeze with Russia if the standoff at the Ukrainian border turns into a military conflict.
Reuters reports that US officials have warned Moscow could launch an attack on Ukraine after gathering more than 100,000 troops near its neighbor’s border with the West as it prepares for heavy sanctions.
An American Airlines plane lands at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington.
Aviation bosses are worried about the impact on relations with Russian companies. Sanctions could disrupt payments to leasing companies and any retaliatory action by Moscow to restrict access to Russian airspace could throw East-West trade into chaos.
A Western source involved in scenario building told Reuters an asymmetric Russian response was expected, adding that the West was unlikely to restrict its own airspace first.
Air corridors between parts of Europe or North America and Asia stretch across Russia, making its 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of airspace an intersection vital business.
US carrier FedEx said on Monday it was making unspecified contingency plans.
Without access to Russian airways, experts say airlines must divert flights south while avoiding areas of tension in the Middle East – adding significant costs at a time when airlines are under stress. the shock of the pandemic.
According to Elisabeth Braw, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the situation is a reminder that Russia’s size and position on the aviation map gives it leverage that the Soviet Union did not have when economies were less connected. .
Ms Braw, writing in a Defense One column last month, said: “So far Moscow has not threatened to revoke overflight rights, but knows it has a phenomenal weapon.”
Russia’s 8,000 air traffic controllers handled 194,296 transit flights, or 532 overflights per day, on average in 2021, according to Reuters.
That’s up 16% from coronavirus-depressed levels in 2020, but still 37% below pre-crisis traffic in 2019, according to the Federal Air Transport Agency.
US airlines have raised concerns that Russia could refuse to extend overflights, disrupting routes to Asia, India and the Middle East.
While some airlines began to avoid Ukraine on Monday, leasing companies considered greater risks in Russia.
Domhnal Slattery, chief executive of lessor Avolon, said his biggest concern was the potential for sanctions involving SWIFT, which would disrupt international payment transfers.
He told Reuters: “So our focus is on how to get around that from the point of view of paying our rents.”
Russian companies have 980 passenger planes in service, of which 777 are leased, according to analytics firm Cirium.
Of these, two-thirds, or 515 jets, with an estimated market value of around £7 billion ($10 billion), are leased to foreign companies.