10 January 2004

FBI: Man demanded jet fly to Australia

CNN.com - FBI: Man demanded jet fly to Australia:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An American Eagle commuter flight from New York to Washington was diverted Saturday because a threat was made by a passenger 'against the aircraft,' an airline spokeswoman said.

An FBI spokesperson said the threat involved a note given to someone on the plane. The spokesperson also said a man made demands to be flown to Australia.

A Transportation Security Administration official told CNN that the man's note stated he had a bomb on the plane. One man is in FBI custody.

American Eagle Flight 4959, carrying 19 passengers, was headed from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Reagan National Airport in Washington.

Federal authorities said there were five crew members, but Lisa Bailey, a spokeswoman for the airline, said there were three crew members.

The flight was diverted to Dulles International in Washington and landed at noon.

It was moved to an isolated area and was being searched by a K-9 unit, according to a spokeswoman from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

The federal government owns Reagan National Airport, but it is operated by Airports Authority under a 50-year lease agreement. Planes landing at Reagan follow a flight path which brings them closer to the Capitol and White House.

Passengers were interviewed by law officers after landing.

The plane, an Embraer Regional Jet, model 135, usually seats 37 passengers, the airline said. The jet has a range just under 2,000 miles when fully fueled. The air distance between New York and Sydney, Australia is 9,933 miles."

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