Swiss Airlines flight forced to return to airport after unruly passenger tried to enter cockpit, airline says

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A Swiss Airlines flight from New Jersey to Switzerland had to turn around and make an emergency landing due to a unruly passenger attempted to enter the cockpit, the airline said.

Swiss Airlines said in a press release that Flight 19, arriving from Newark Liberty International Airport bound for Zurich, Switzerland on March 31, had to return to the airport shortly after taking off around 9:50 p.m.

The passenger, who was not named, “behaved in an abusive manner towards the crew,” Swiss Airlines said. Swiss Airlines said a cabin crew member was slightly injured in the incident.

The pilot told air traffic controllers that the passenger’s condition was “getting worse” and that he attempted to enter the cockpit, according to air traffic control audio reviewed by CBS News.

“We don’t know if he could be aggressive towards the passengers or the crew,” the pilot said, adding that the passenger was “moving freely in the cabin.”

The plane landed at Newark Liberty International Airport around 11 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. There were 236 passengers on board the Airbus A330, according to Swiss Airlines, as well as 13 crew members. All passengers were rebooked on other flights, Swiss Airlines said. The crew, including the injured cabin crew member, also returned to Switzerland.

New Jersey Port Authority Police arrested the passenger and charged him with obstructing transportation and assault. The passenger was released when he appeared in court, the agency said in a statement.

The FAA will investigate the incident.


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