Drunk Russian detained after failed attempt to hijack plane
MOSCOW (Reuters) – A drunk Russian man who unsuccessfully tried to hijack an Aeroflot passenger flight was detained by police on Tuesday after the plane made an emergency landing in Siberia, Russian investigators said.
The passenger, who claimed he was armed, tried to break into the cockpit during the flight from the Siberian city of Surgut to Moscow and demanded that Aeroflot flight SU 1515 change course and fly to Afghanistan, Russian news agencies reported.
It later turned out he was bluffing and was not armed.
State television channel Rossiya-24 showed footage of masked security officers seizing the man on board the plane and leading him out with his hands behind his back.
“The passengers and crew members on board the aircraft disembarked safely and without injury,” Aeroflot said in a statement.
Drunken incidents involving passengers on commercial flights in Russia are fairly common, though it is unusual for them to result in flights being diverted.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal investigation into the man who faces potential charges of hijacking a plane while threatening to use violence.
The crime carries a jail sentence of between seven and 12 years.
A local law enforcement source told state news agency TASS that according to preliminary information the man was intoxicated. Aeroflot flight SU1515 took off from the Siberian city of Surgut at 12:55pm Moscow time (4:55am ET). Fifteen minutes after takeoff, the aircraft changed its course.
A spokesman from Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee (NAC) told TASS that it was rerouted after a demand by one of the passengers.
Live air traffic data from FlightRadar24 showed the plane’s route deviation.
The pilot then took the decision to divert the flight to Khanty-Mansiysk, landing at 2:18pm Moscow time. Aeroflot said it has dispatched a reserve aircraft to the town to enable passengers to continue on to Moscow.
Earlier reports from state media suggested hooliganism had caused the flight to turn around.