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Drunken pilot threatened to blow up Emirates flight

November 19, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

As an example of putting fear into the hearts of passengers and wrecking a promising career as a pilot, it doesn’t get much more outrageous – as reflected in a firm sentence handed down by Dubai Criminal Court.

An off-duty pilot who drunkenly threatened to blow up a plane before assaulting a flight attendant and damaging a seat on an Emirates flight from Madrid to Dubai has been sentenced to a year in prison.

The court heard the incident happened on 2 June 2018. The defendant, who court reports did not name, was described as an “off-duty Emirati pilot” aged 27. Emirati means a citizen or inhabitant of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It does not necessarily mean he worked for Emirates Airline.

A female Romanian flight attendant who worked on the Emirates flight where it happened told the court the accused, who was travelling as a passenger, began causing trouble as the plane prepared to depart Madrid, Abu Dhabi-based news outlet The National reported.

The flight attendant said the defendant did not look sober when he boarded the plane. He had asked crew if smoking was allowed on the flight and had gone on on to insult her and others. The defendant’s behaviour deteriorated once the plane was in the air. The flight attendant said the accused stood on his seat and tried to remove his shoe to throw at another passenger. When she tried to stop him he punched her on the chest and knocked her down.

She said the defendant grabbed beers from a cart without crewmembers’ permission and swore continually. His behaviour had frightened and disturbed other passengers.

“Other crew members talked to him and tried to calm him down and asked him to stop using foul language, but he did not listen,” the woman said.

Cabin crew finally overwhelmed the off-duty pilot and secured him in plastic handcuffs – but he continued to head-butt and smash the in-flight entertainment TV screen on the seatback in front of him and damage a window.

The behaviour got even worse, with the ranting defendant threatening to find where the flight attendant lived so he could hunt her down and kill her – and finally threatening to blow up the plane with explosives, which he claimed to have smuggled aboard on his body.

Flight crew contacted ground control for assistance and Dubai police were waiting when the plane landed at Dubai International Airport.

They arrested the off-duty pilot, who was charged with consuming alcohol without a licence, being disorderly aboard an aircraft and threatening the safety of passengers. He was also charged with issuing threats to kill, insulting crewmembers and passengers and causing AED 10,000 (about AUD 3700) worth of damage by breaking a TV monitor screen and damaging a window.

The defendant admitted all charges in August. He was sentenced last week and taken to prison.

Written by Peter Needham

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