Saturday, February 04, 2017

Mentally unstable man threatens to crash Delhi-Mumbai Jet flight

NEW DELHI: Air travellers' worst fears came alive on a Delhi-Mumbai flight on Saturday when an unruly flyer loudly claimed that he had the plane in his control and that he would crash the same. It took some off duty pilots and well-built passengers to pin down the young man. He was sedated and handed over to security agencies on landing safely in Mumbai. However, the person turned out to be mentally unstable and was let off after his family apologized on his behalf.

This scary episode took place on Jet Airways' 9W 332 on Saturday morning when the flight had covered over half of the distance from Delhi to Mumbai. "About an hour into the flight, a passenger suddenly got up and threw up his food tray. He shouted that the plane has been remotely taken over and will crash. The well-dressed person, who appeared to be in mid-30s, then tore down the curtain separating the business class and started walking menacingly towards the cockpit," said KPMG partner Amber Dubey who was on the flight.

"Two passengers and some off-duty Jet pilots in business class blocked him and pinned him down. The crew also held back some aggressive passengers who wanted to thrash the person. A doctor on board gave him some sedatives which helped cool him down. He was escorted to the back of the plane where two off-duty pilots of Jet Airways held guard," Dubey added.

The person made these threats in fluent English and spoke of having control over the plane. The Jet pilot then informed Mumbai air traffic control and requested for security personnel to be sent to aircraft on landing.

Once in Mumbai, the unruly passenger was handed over to Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel. His family had come to receive him at the airport. They reportedly told authorities that the person was mentally disturbed and that he may not have taken his medicine because of he behaved like that.

A CISF spokesman said: "The passenger was allowed to go as he apologized to the airline, which then did not submit any complaint to us." Given his mental condition, the security agency did not detain him for long and released him at about 10am - two hours after he created the ruckus on board.

"This (episode) could have turned ugly but was handled well by the Jet crew and passengers. With air traffic growing by leaps and bounds, such incidents are likely to recur. There is a need to enhance the number of plainclothes air marshals. We also need to build an 'unfit to fly' registry with biometric details of high risk passengers," Dubey, an aviation expert, said.