A man allegedly tried to break into the flight deck of a United Express plane as it was taxiing for takeoff at Los Angeles International (LAX) on Friday evening. When the passenger failed to break into the flight deck, he opened an emergency door and jumped down the inflatable slide onto the tarmac below.
Both the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department responded immediately and managed to apprehend the suspect on the taxiway. The incident occurred just a day after a driver crashed through a security fence at LAX and managed to get onto the airfield prompting a major security alert.
United Express flight UA5365 from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City (SLC) remains on the ground at LAX several hours after the incident. Photos taken from the scene show the emergency slide deployed at the front right-hand side of the Embraer E175 regional jet which is operated by Skywest.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Skywest confirmed the incident saying: “During taxi out this evening, a passenger aboard SkyWest flight 5365, operating as United Express from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, opened a service door and exited the aircraft.”
“Law enforcement has detained the individual and the aircraft returned to the gate. There were no injuries onboard,” the statement continued.
The plane managed to return to the gate and the flight is currently scheduled to depart late Friday night. Skywest’s E175’s have a maximum capacity of between 70 and 75 people.
Few other details are known about the incident or what prompted the man to try to get into the flight deck. Initial reports of an attempted hijacking have not been confirmed and investigators are yet to release further details.
In a separate incident on Thursday, a driver crashed through a security fence close to the FedEx Express cargo facility at LAX. The security scare prompted the temporary closure of two runways as officers scrambled to detain the suspect.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the FBI said no federal charges were expected and that local authorities would lead the investigation.
Earlier this month, a man tried to break into the flight deck of a Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles mid-flight. The man was taken down by a flight attendant and passengers had to help hogtie the suspect with zip-ties.
Around a week later, an off-duty flight attendant allegedly tried to open the emergency exit of another Delta flight from Los Angeles. Stephon Jamar Duncan of Georgia, Atlanta faces the prospect of spending the next 20 years in federal prison, as well as a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release after he was charged with one count of interference with flight crew members and attendants.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.