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Saturday, 22 September, 2001, 04:17 GMT 05:17 UK
Man with penknife sparks plane alert
Cairo airport
The man caused a huge scare at Cairo airport
A British man carrying a penknife caused a massive security alert after slipping through airport safety checks and on to a plane in Egypt.

The man hid the knife in a rucksack at Cairo airport before boarding the Heathrow-bound flight on Friday morning.

Once on the plane he told cabin crew he was carrying it.

All 224 passengers were immediately evacuated from the aircraft as a precaution and the flight was delayed for over an hour, according to British Airways.

The pilot refused to let the man back on the plane, leaving him stranded at Cairo airport.

The man later told police he had pulled the stunt because friends had asked him to test security at the airport.

Pilots back database

Security at airports around the world has been stepped up following the terrorist attacks in the US last week.

The British Airport Authority said hundreds of sharp items had been confiscated from travellers at Heathrow, but none had caused a security alert such as the one at Cairo.

Most of the recovered objects were kitchen and bathroom tools that holidaymakers simply did not realise they should put in the aircraft hold.

The hijackers are believed to have used knives hidden in hand luggage to seize control of the four aircraft used in the attacks.

British pilots are backing the introduction of a security system which would identify dangerous passengers at check-in.

Under the system, the passenger's passport details would be cross-matched with a database containing information on suspected terrorists and passengers prone to air-rage.

The system would also print the boarding card with a barcode. This contains the passenger's photograph which can be read by a hand-held scanner.

The British Airline Pilots Association says the system could be a vital tool in the world's defence against terrorism.


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21 Sep 01 | UK
Q & A: Airport security
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