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The BBC's John McIntyre reports
"What is not yet clear is the reason for the attack"
 real 56k

Friday, 29 December, 2000, 15:28 GMT
Crew's training saved terror flight
The cabin staff restrained the man until the plane landed
Cabin staff restrained the man until the plane landed
The airline captain and crew that tackled a passenger as he tried to seize the controls have been praised for their bravery.

British Airways said the training and experience of the crew of the Gatwick to Nairobi flight prevented disaster.

The plane's captain William Hagan, 53, is one of their longest-serving pilots with 30 years' experience.

Mr Hagan, whose wife and two children were on board, was bitten on the ear and finger as he fought with the man.

"It all happened very quickly," he said.

"My first thought was for the safety of the aircraft and the passengers.

"In the struggle the intruder bit my ear but my First Officer Richard Webb and I managed to get him out of the cockpit while my other First Officer Phil Watson flew the aircraft.


We just did what we are trained to do.

Captain William Hagan
"With the help of some passengers we managed to restrain the intruder."

The flight crew then managed to regain control of the aircraft, which was carrying 379 passengers and 16 cabin crew.

Mr Hagan, from Glasgow, said it was thanks to the quick thinking of his colleagues and the passengers that the incident was brought to a swift conclusion.

Mr Watson, 38, a married man from Cheshire, has been with the airline for 10 years, while Mr Webb, also married and from Buckinghamshire, has four years' BA experience.

First Officer Richard Webb
First Officer Richard Webb grappled with the intruder
The airline has launched an investigation into the incident.

Mike Street, director of operations and customer relations at BA, said crew undergo rigorous training to deal with such situations but in 37 years he had never experienced such an incident.

"They are trained to deal with disruptive passengers and jumped into action with well-rehearsed security procedures and followed our safety policies to the letter," he said.

The plane was flying at a height of around 35,000ft at the time of the incident, having taken off from Gatwick airport in West Sussex at 2300 GMT on Thursday.

BA said that cockpit door was normally locked during take off and landing but kept open during the flight.

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See also:

29 Dec 00 | UK
Security in the skies
06 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Call for air rage treaty
01 Apr 99 | UK
Spotlight on air rage
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