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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 August, 2003, 20:32 GMT 21:32 UK
Pilot on bail over air incident
Air France co-pilot Philippe Rivere seen leaving a New York court
Rivere is thought to be the pilot who made the "inappropriate" remarks

An Air France pilot, arrested at New York's John F Kennedy Airport over "inappropriate" remarks he is alleged to have made during a security check, has appeared before a US judge.

He is reported to have been released on $7,500 bail and an initial hearing in the case has been set for later in August.

He is charged with two counts of falsely reporting an incident and faces up to 11 years in prison.

He is reported to have jokingly referred to a bomb in his shoes during a security check which was apparently taking a long time.

We have zero tolerance for those kinds of comments
US official Lauren Stover
But there has been no official confirmation of the circumstances of the incident so far, and the pilot has not yet given his version.

News agencies have named the co-pilot in question as Philippe Rivere, but Air France has declined to confirm this.

He is due to fly back to Paris on Sunday night and arrive on Monday, an Air France spokesman in Paris told BBC News Online.

The airline will then conduct their own internal inquiry into the incident and will speak to both the co-pilot and pilot of Flight AF009 which landed in Paris on Saturday, the spokesman said.

"It is normal that the US authorities should conduct security checks in the current climate," he said.

Flight delay

The plane was delayed as a result of the incident on Friday night, and 350 passengers had to stay in local hotels overnight.

The flight eventually returned to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on Saturday after a new co-pilot flew in from Paris.

Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport
The Paris-bound flight was delayed as a result of the incident
The airline, who has apologised to passengers for the inconvenience caused, said the pilot had been arrested following "misinterpreted remarks".

But US officials describe the pilot's remarks as inappropriate.

"It's not very often that you find a co-pilot making such inappropriate comments," Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokeswoman Lauren Stover.

"We have zero tolerance for those kinds of comments."

The TSA is the federal agency created to administer airport security after the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington in which about 3,000 people were killed.

"Terrorists are still trying to perfect a shoe bomb, and here is an employee of the aviation industry - the very people we are trying to protect and who we are counting on to be alert in security matters - who is making the threat," Ms Stover said.

In December 2001, shoebomber Richard Reid tried to ignite an explosive device hidden in his footwear during a flight from Paris to the United States.

He was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year.

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