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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 05:01 GMT 06:01 UK
Air rage man 'storms cockpit'
South African Airways 747-400 (pic: SAA)
The plane was flying from Cape Town to London
Police are questioning a man about an air rage incident on a flight from Cape Town to London.

South African Airways (SAA) said a man had tried to shoulder-barge the cockpit door of a Boeing 747 six hours into the flight from Cape Town.

A 35-year-old British man was arrested by the Metropolitan Police as soon as Flight SA 220 touched down at Heathrow's Terminal One at 0530 BST on Wednesday.

Police are continuing to question the man on Thursday, in relation to alleged criminal damage.

He was on some habit forming narcotics and suffered a panic attack or withdrawal symptoms

SAA spokesman

The cockpit door was locked and the man was restrained by passengers and crew and handcuffed for the five hours remaining of the flight.

A doctor on the flight examined the man and thought he had suffered panic attacks due to narcotic withdrawal.

An SAA spokesman said: "He suddenly left his seat and proceeded to the upper deck of the plane.

"Once on the upper deck he ran down the aisle and shoulder charged the locked cockpit door and attempted to gain entry into the flight deck.
A pilot and cockpit
The cockpit doors were kept locked

"Passengers and crew overpowered him.

"The 317 passengers, flight deck and cabin crew were never in danger.

"A doctor examined him and reported that he probably suffered a panic attack.

"He was on some habit forming narcotics and suffered a panic attack or withdrawal symptoms.

'Strict rules'

"He was handcuffed throughout the rest of the flight and was handed over to the Metropolitan Police in London when it arrived."

The spokesman added: "SAA has a strict policy in which cockpit doors are locked at all times."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Officers were called to a runway at Heathrow where they met an inbound flight from South Africa after reports of a passenger causing a disturbance.

"It appears he attempted to enter the cockpit while the aircraft was in flight."

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The BBC's Simon Montague
"Reinforced doors have been widely fitted"
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