Calgary man charged after trans-Atlantic flight diverts to Edmonton
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2012 10:39AM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 21, 2012 7:06PM MDT
RCMP south of Edmonton have laid charges after an unruly passenger forced a flight from England to make an emergency landing in Edmonton.
Edmonton International Airport RCMP said on Monday afternoon, just before 4 p.m., Air Canada flight 851 from London’s Heathrow Airport to Calgary was diverted to Edmonton’s airport – over an intoxicated man causing a disturbance on the plane.
The trouble started on the Boeing 777 about three hours before the plane was scheduled to land – while the flight was over Hudson Bay.
“You could hear someone in the background saying ‘Stop the plane’,” Passenger Peggy Hopkins said Tuesday.
According to police, the disgruntled business-class passenger caused minor damages to the plane, in addition to sexually assaulting a female crew member and assaulting another passenger.
“We were told that there was a situation on the plane, that we were in lockdown,” Hopkins said. “[We were told to] stay in our seats, no access to bathrooms.
“We were told to sit.”
Until the plane landed, it was up to passengers and the crew to subdue the unruly passenger.
“Several passengers restrained him in a seat, how I don’t know,” Corp. Mark Dudley with Edmonton International Airport RCMP said. “He was restrained until our members got on the plane.”
When the plane landed in Edmonton, RCMP arrested Justin Frank, 35, without incident.
Frank is facing a number of charges, and remains in custody.
Dudley said this is an unusual situation for RCMP.
“We don’t see this very often, where a plane has to be diverted because of passenger’s activities,” Dudley said. “We have several complaints where there are unruly passengers, but generally they’re complaint with staff and we deal with them when the plane lands.”
As for the airline, CTV News contacted Air Canada for a comment on the incident, however that request was declined – a spokesperson said they wouldn’t comment because the case is before the courts.
However, the Air Canada spokesperson said the company is dealing with passengers inconvenienced by the situation on a case by case basis.
Frank has been scheduled to appear in a Leduc courtroom on Thursday, August 23.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact Edmonton International Airport RCMP at 780-890-4333 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
With files from Brenna Rose