Passengers on an American Airlines flight last night suffered a delay of nearly eight hours, after the flight controls were broken due to the actions of a passenger. This is a truly strange story, as first reported by @SweeneyABC.
American’s bizarre cockpit boarding incident
This incident involves last night’s American Airlines flight 488 from San Pedro Sula (SAP) to Miami (MIA). The flight was operated by an American Airlines Boeing 737-800. According to reports:
- An American Airlines passenger ran down the jet bridge and onto the aircraft, and straight into the cockpit
- Once in the cockpit, he damaged some of the flight controls
- A pilot in the cockpit tried to stop him, at which point the passenger tried to jump out of the open cockpit window
There’s video footage of the passenger trying to jump out of the cockpit window during the boarding process from outside of the aircraft, and there’s also a picture of damage to the left engine throttle in the cockpit.
We don’t yet know the passenger’s motive for what he did, as this sure was a strange act. I’m also not sure I follow the logic of them apparently trying to prevent the man from jumping out of the cockpit window? Was this for his own safety, so he doesn’t hurt himself? If someone is exhibiting such behavior, it seems in everyone’s best interest to not have them in an enclosed space with ~150 other people.
And for anyone wondering how this could happen, generally speaking the cockpit door is open during the boarding process, as the cockpit door typically only closes when boarding is complete (though you need permission to enter). There’s not really a risk that something like this could have happened inflight, since cockpit doors are reinforced.
Passengers were delayed by eight hours
After the incident, American had a planeload of passengers, but the roughly eight year old Boeing 737-800 with the registration code N942NN had to be taken out of service due to the cockpit damage (it’s still on the ground there as of this morning).
American Airlines sent a roughly six year old Boeing 737-800 with the registration code N989NN down to Honduras, along with a replacement crew (since the other crew would have timed out). The plane departed Miami around four hours after the initial incident happened, which I guess isn’t too bad when you consider they had to find an aircraft, crew, etc.
The plane landed in San Pedru Sula at around 10PM, and then was quickly turned around for the flight back to Miami. It departed at 10:45PM, and landed in Miami just before 2AM this morning.
While bizarre airline passenger behavior has become pretty common nowadays, this has to be one of the stranger incidents we’ve seen. A passenger boarding a Miami-bound American Airlines flight, charged the cockpit, broke the flight controls, and then tried to jump out of the cockpit window.
The airline ended up dispatching a replacement aircraft and crew within around four hours, so passengers ended up enduring a roughly eight hour delay. What an incident this must have been…
What do you make of this incident?