American Airline flight makes emergency landing after passenger apparently tries to breach cockpit

A plane made an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Wednesday afternoon because of a security concern involving a passenger.

Airport officials said the plane was diverted to RDU because of a disruptive passenger who apparently tried to breach the cockpit.

It happened about 3:40 p.m. American Eagle Flight 3444 departing from Jacksonville, Florida, to Washington, DC was forced to stop at RDU.

The plane was initially diverted to Charlotte and then RDU. Upon landing, the plane was directed to gate C9, where law enforcement officials boarded the aircraft and took Tiffany Michelle Miles, 36, into custody.

Radio transmissions revealed that crew members and other passengers helped restrain Miles.

Passenger Jim Wynn took this photo after the plane landed at RDU and the unruly passenger was removed. (Photo: Jim Wynn)

“Safety and security are our top priorities, and we thank our customers for their cooperation and our team members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation,” said Derek Walls, a spokesperson for American Airlines.

Retired American Airlines captain Tal Holloway, who has flown for more than 30 years, said the first thing you want to be is “on the ground,” find the nearest airport and start emergency descent.

“The first thing you’re going to want to do is make sure the aircraft is under control. Obviously somebody has to fly the airplane and somebody else is going to have to work the situation,” Holloway said. “They train all the crew members for this specifically. It’s not a fun training to do but unfortunately, since 9/11, it’s a required training.”

Kara Rosario was a passenger on American Eagle Flight 3444 Wednesday. She said Miles was getting upset that they weren’t serving her drink.

Rosario said flight attendants tried to calm Miles down, and then another passenger who heard what was happening got up to help.

“He heard the commotion, and he went up to first class to assist and see if he could help at all. He wasn’t a marshal at all or police officer, just a citizen who was trying to help defuse the situation,” Rosario said. “You could feel that we were in it together, and were willing to do what was needed but the gentleman behind me was the first to get up and take matters into his own hands.”

The FBI Charlotte Field Office responded to the airport to assist with the incident.

“The FBI is currently conducting interviews to gather the facts and will consult with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of North Carolina to determine if federal charges will be filed,” said Shelley Lynch, public affairs specialist for the FBI Charlotte office.

American Airlines said earlier that the flight was cleared to resume normal operations, but, later, the flight was canceled.

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