An unidentified man went berserk aboard an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 in Honduras causing havoc among travelers and crew members after breaking into the aircraft's cabin and damaging the flight controls.
After that, the man tried to jump out of a window. There were no injuries and the perpetrator was arrested by local authorities, the airline confirmed Tuesday.
The suspect ran down the gangway and into the cockpit, ABC News reported, damaging the flight controls and attempting to jump out of an open window as pilots tried to stop him. We applaud our outstanding crew members for their professionalism in handling a difficult situation, American said in a statement.
The damaged plane with 121 passengers and six crew members onboard was grounded at Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the airline said. A replacement plane needed to be sent in, American also explained.
In September, an American Airlines passenger opened the emergency exit of a plane in Miami and got on the wing before being arrested.
Tuesday's episode came at a time when US airline workers and government agencies have reported a sharp increase in altercations with aggressive and violent passengers over the past year.
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opened more than 1,000 misconduct investigations last year, up from 183 in 2020 and 146 in 2019. More than 70% of the nearly 6,000 total reports on unruly passengers in 2021 were linked to the requirement to wear face masks, although flight attendants say they have also encountered drunk and verbally abusive passengers.
The FAA responded to the rise in aggressive behavior by imposing a zero tolerance policy last year, which resulted in over US $ 1 million in fines on violent passengers.
The US Justice Department also said in November that it would prioritize criminal charges against some offenders, after airline trade groups and unions pressured US officials to crack down on unsafe behavior on flights.
In recent weeks, United States airlines are also being forced to cancel thousands of flights due to the lack of personnel infected by the coronavirus.
United Airlines said Tuesday it needed to further cancel flights as it has some 3,000 employees currently infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Other carriers such as American Airlines, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines had already announced they were going to reduce the number of flights in January for the same reason.
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