American Airlines flight 3444 was diverted to Raleigh-Durham International Airport Wednesday due to a disruptive passenger, according to the North Carolina airport.
“At approximately 3:41 p.m., flight AA 3444 departing Jacksonville to Washington, DC, diverted to RDU due to a disruptive passenger,” the airport said in a statement. “Upon landing, the plane was directed to gate C9 where law enforcement boarded the aircraft and took the suspect into custody.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said, “The Embraer E170 was flying from Jacksonville International Airport in Florida to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The airline said in a statement that the diversion was “due to a security concern involving an unruly customer.”
The passenger was a woman who was having a panic attack, a source familiar with the incident told CNN.
According to the airport, the plane was cleared to resume its flight to Washington, DC, and RDU has returned to normal operations.
The FBI said its Charlotte, North Carolina, office is investigating and “will consult with the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of North Carolina to determine if federal charges will be filed.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted Wednesday night that he was briefed on “a Level 4 disruption” on the American Airlines flight. A Level 4 disruption is an “attempted or actual breach of the flight deck,” according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA — which is investigating the incident — said in a tweet they are working on a rule that would require new planes to have a second barrier to the flight deck.
“Last year, we made progress to require new planes to have a second barrier to the flight deck after the rule stalled under the previous administration. We’re working quickly to issue the final rule,” the FAA statement said.
Last year there were more than 2,300 reports of unruly passenger behavior, according to FAA statistics. Of those, 80 cases were referred to the FBI for criminal review.
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