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Furious Qantas passenger ‘tried to break into cockpit’

July 8, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A passenger on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Manila grew so enraged about his in-flight entertainment monitor not working that he allegedly tried to break into the cockpit. Air marshals and cabin crew seized, restrained and arrested the angry man.

The plane continued to Manila where, surprisingly, the man was sent back to Australia on the return flight without being charged.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph identified the angry man as Mamudu Kamara, travelling on Qantas flight QF19. The paper said his nationality was Australian and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed that, adding that he was aged 33.

The incident happened about two and a half hours into the flight. Shortly afterwards, the AFP warned that “the consequences could have been disastrous” if the cockpit had been breached. The AFP issued a general warning to airline passengers about “behaving inappropriately on commercial aircraft”.

“It will be alleged that the man engaged in abusive conduct toward the flight service crew, after which he ran to the front of the aircraft and attempted to open the cockpit door,” an AFP statement said.

Fortunately, “air marshals” (more correctly known in Australian parlance as Air Security Officers) were aboard the aircraft. With cabin crew helping, they brought the man under control. The Qantas captain decided to continue on to Manila, where the man was handed over to Philippine authorities.

The Daily Telegraph said Kamara began abusing staff after repeatedly complaining that the seatback television monitor in front of him wasn’t working.

Kamara might have faced the wrath of Philippine law, which includes any “form of intimidation, with wrongful intent, of an aircraft within the jurisdiction of the Philippines” under the general heading of Air Piracy. Penalties are severe.

A crucial issue, however, is that the plane was not within the jurisdiction of the Philippines when the incident occurred.

In the event, the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (ASG), notified by the Australian Embassy in Manila, decided that as the alleged offence was committed aboard an Australian aircraft, Australian law applied. Kamara would be charged in Australia, ASG officers told the Philippines Inquirer newspaper. He was loaded onto the return flight.

AFP National Manager Aviation, Shane Connelly, stressed that abusive behaviour posed a danger to passengers and crew alike.

“Distracting the pilots of a commercial aircraft carrying approximately 400 passengers and flying at an altitude of 10,000 metres is a very real threat to the safe operation of that aircraft,” Connelly said.

“If the cockpit had been breached, the consequences could have been disastrous. Such behaviour on flights involving an Australian destination or origin cannot – and will not – be tolerated by airlines and the AFP.

“While the aircraft was not endangered during this incident, we want to use it to remind people that harassment or violence directed toward airline staff and fellow passengers is against the law and the AFP will not hesitate to take action against those who commit these offences.”

The AFP operates an Air Security Officer program, where members fly on selected domestic and international flights to ensure the safety of the travelling public.

Written by Peter Needham

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