A Canadian man has been arrested on suspicion of interference with flight crew members after he attempted to break into the flight deck of a Toronto-bound flight twice. The man faces the threat of 20 years imprisonment in addition to a $25,000 fine if found guilty.
Sebastian Bien-Aine of Toronto forced the pilots of Porter Airlines flight PD134 to divert to the remote Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in Pittston Township, Pennsylvania just 30 minutes after departure Newark Liberty Airport last Sunday.
In a newly filed affidavit, an FBI agent investigating the incident alleges Bien-Aine got out of his seat immediately after takeoff and while the small Dash 8 turbo-prop regional aircraft was still in its initial climb out of Newark.
Witnesses claim Bien-Aine “charged” towards the flight deck and tried to open door but found it had already been secured shut by the pilots. A flight attendant “directed” Bien-Aine back to his seat but moments later he got back up and charged towards the flight deck for a second try.
Flight attendants and passengers tried to get Bien-Aine back into his seat but he locked himself in the lavatory where he remained for 15-minutes, ignoring repeated requests for him to leave.
When he eventually came out, flight attendants saw smoke and ashes on the floor, and detected a strong smell of cigarettes. At this point, the Captain decided to land the aircraft at the nearest airport and Bien-Aine was taken into custody by local law enforcement.
Bien-Aine appeared in court on Thursday where he was indicted by a federal grand jury for interference with flight crew. The suspect has been remanded in custody pending a trial which has been scheduled for September 26.
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.
This story does not make sense.
Why would you continue flying if someone tried to get into the cockpit, not once but TWICE?
And then landed only after he was caught smoking. If the guy was tied up and secured by crew or other passengers I could possibly then see the logic to continue. Smoking makes you land the plane but repeated attempts to take over your plane doesn’t? Something is missing from this story.
I am shocked to read the pilots did not land IMMEDIATELY and arrest the traveler IMMEDIATELY. The passenger was a threat to the aircraft and other travelers. Porter needs to review this one!!