A US airplane made an emergency landing in Texas Tuesday after passengers restrained the pilot when he began shouting about Al-Qaeda and bomb threats, officials and media reports said.
The JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas, Nevada was diverted to Amarillo, Texas after the incident, which the airliner said was due to a medical issue involving the captain.
The captain went to a restroom just outside the cockpit, and when he emerged began shouting "Iraq, al-Qaida, terrorism, we're all going down!" according to the Amarillo Globe-News newspaper.
"It was a little scary, he was pretty freaked out," passenger Heidi Karg told CNN. "When they were trying to calm him down .. they had to restrain him and a bunch of male passengers ran to the front of the plane to subdue him."
Gabriel Schonzeit, who was seated in the third row, told the Globe-News: "He started screaming about al Qaeda and possibly a bomb on the plane and Iraq and Iran and about how we were all going down."
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the plane's co-pilot became concerned that the captain was behaving erratically.
"The co-pilot became concerned that the captain exhibited erratic behavior during the flight. The captain had exited the cockpit during the flight, after which the co-pilot locked the door," said an FAA statement.
"When the captain attempted to enter the locked cockpit, he was subdued by passengers. After the flight landed safely, local law enforcement secured the pilot .. and he was transported by ambulance for medical evaluation."
A JetBlue statement said that roughly three and a half hours into the flight, "the pilot in command elected to divert to Amarillo, Texas for a medical situation involving the captain.
"Another captain, traveling off duty, entered the flight deck prior to landing at Amarillo, and took over the duties of the ill crew member, who was taken to a local medical facility in Amarillo.
Passenger Schonzeit told the Globe-News: "It seemed like he went crazy," adding "We all knew in the front rows if he got back in the cockpit, we were going down."© ANP/AFP