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Passenger Detained After Attempt to Storm Cockpit on LA to Hawai‘i Flight

Wendy Osher · May 19, 2017, 12:22 PM HST (Updated May 19, 2017, 4:10 PM) · 26 Comments
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Operations at Honolulu International Airport have returned to normal following an in-flight incident involving an unruly passenger aboard an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

Sources tell Maui Now that a passenger attempted to break into the cockpit of the plane, but an off duty Honolulu police officer intervened. Transportation officials have confirmed that the suspect attempted to enter the cockpit and is currently in the custody of agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Agents are also interviewing passengers of the flight to obtain further information.

American Airlines Flt 31 from LAX to HNL lands safely after an unruly passenger attempts to break into the cockpit.
PC: Instagram @chawancut

Sources tell Maui Now that the passenger was from Turkey, but transportation officials have been unable to confirm that at this time.

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Flight 31 originated at the Los Angeles International Airport, and departed LAX at 8:43 a.m.  It was bound for Honolulu International Airport, and arrived at 11:39 a.m. on Friday, May 19, 2017.

Transportation officials tell Maui Now that all airport security stakeholders were notified and were standing by on the ground to respond if needed. The Hawaii Air National Guard scrambled fighter planes to escort the American Airlines jet into Honolulu International.

Passengers have since been deplaned from the aircraft and the plane was being checked out by an explosive operations team from Hickam Air Force Base.

Shelly Kunishige, Department of Transportation spokesperson tells Maui Now that there was a ground stoppage at the Honolulu International Airport for about 30 minutes during which Air Traffic Control stopped incoming flights from landing.  That has since been lifted and the airport is now working to clear the backlog.

Kunishige said she expects this backlog should be resolved by the end of the peak travel window early this afternoon.

Toni Schwartz, Public Information Officer for the Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety said the incident involving an unruly passenger on a plane en route to the Honolulu International Airport is a federal matter and being handled by federal authorities.   The sheriffs along with other law enforcement agencies responded to the scene as is normal procedure.

*Please check back for further details.  We will post more information on this developing story as it becomes available. 

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 15 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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