An American Airlines flight was diverted to Raleigh-Durham International Airport Wednesday due to a disruptive passenger, according to the North Carolina airport.
“At approximately 3:41 p.m., flight AA 3444 departing Jacksonville to Washington, DC, diverted to RDU due to a disruptive passenger,” the airport said in a statement. “Upon landing, the plane was directed to gate C9 where law enforcement boarded the aircraft and took the suspect into custody.”
The airline said in a statement that the diversion was “due to a security concern involving an unruly customer.”
In scanner audio from Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Police, officers can be heard saying the passenger “tried to breach the cockpit” and was “being somewhat restrained by the flight crew and other passengers.”
The passenger charged at the cockpit door, the Federal Aviation Administration told CNN on Thursday.
Spokesman Matt Lehner said the passenger “did not breach it,” but “did run at it.”
The passenger is facing an illegal “airport obstruction,” misdemeanor charge, according to the Raleigh/Wake City-County Bureau of Identification and CNN affiliate WRAL.
The FBI said Wednesday its Charlotte, North Carolina, office is investigating and “will consult with the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of North Carolina to determine if federal charges will be filed.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a tweet Wednesday night that he was briefed on “a Level 4 disruption” on the American Airlines flight. A Level 4 disruption is an “attempted or actual breach of the flight deck,” according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA said in a tweet Wednesday that they are working on a rule that would require new planes to have a second barrier to the flight deck.
“Last year, we made progress to require new planes to have a second barrier to the flight deck after the rule stalled under the previous administration. We’re working quickly to issue the final rule,” the FAA statement said.
Last year there were more than 2,300 reports of unruly passenger behavior, according to FAA statistics. Of those, 80 cases were referred to the FBI for criminal review.
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