MORRISVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A ‘disruptive passenger’ caused a flight to divert to Raleigh-Durham International Airport Wednesday afternoon, according to officials.
American Airlines flight 3444 from Jacksonville, Florida, was headed to Washington, D.C. but rerouted to RDU at 3:41 p.m.
BE THE FIRST TO KNOW: Sign up here for QC News Alerts and get breaking news sent straight to your inbox
Shortly after 3 p.m., the FAA issued all planes at RDU to a ground stop; air traffic control eventually resumed around 4:20 p.m.
Queen City News obtained recordings of chatter between the pilot and air traffic control; on those recordings, the pilot says the situation was ‘a level four security threat.’
According to the FAA, a level four threat means a breach, or attempted breach, of the cockpit door.
After the plane landed at 3:41 p.m., it was directed to gate C9 where authorities boarded the aircraft and took the suspect into custody.
“First time I’ve ever seen an event like this,” a person with air traffic control said.
The FAA tweeted that they’re investigating the unruly passenger situation, explaining that in 2022, they made progress to have a ‘second barrier’ to the flight deck.
However, the rule stalled under the previous administration, but they advised they’re working quickly to resolve the issue.
The FBI Charlotte Field Office released the following statement regarding the incident:
“The FBI Charlotte Field Office responded to the Raleigh-Durham Airport on February 22, 2023, after a flight from Jacksonville to Washington, DC, was diverted due to a disruptive passenger.
The FBI is currently conducting interviews to gather the facts and will consult with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of North Carolina to determine if federal charges will be filed.”