Crew questions pilot’s decision to not immediately divert American Air flight

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 10:36 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 10:17 PM

D/FW AIRPORT -– Some members of an American Airlines cabin crew question why their captain did not immediately divert on Sunday night after a disruptive passenger became violent.

New York Mets pitcher LaTroy Hawkins Tweeted how the unruly man became angry "after the flight attendant told him he couldn't sit in open seat in Business class. They started to wrestle and landed in my lap."

News 8 has learned the disruptive passenger on Flight 945 Sunday night was a 27-year-old German man. People on board said he kicked in a floor panel and broke a seat while being subdued, and eventually started bleeding after breaking out of flex cuffs.

But some on the cabin crew told News 8 they're upset the pilot didn't take immediate action and divert to a close airport. The concerned crewmembers asked not to be identified, since they are not authorized to speak publicly.

"I've never heard of anybody breaking cuffs and keep going berserk," said Denny Kelly, an aviation security consultant and former pilot. "You always hate to second-guess someone in that situation, but I can tell you that myself, and I talked to several other guys about this, and they all said he should have landed."

It is neither cheap nor easy to land a large jetliner, especially over the Gulf of Mexico. But people on American Flight 945 Sunday night said it took two-and-a-half hours after the incident for the pilot to finally land the plane.

The incident began a couple hours into the flight as the Boeing 777 soared over the Gulf off the coast of Texas and Mexico. The crew questioned why the captain didn't divert then to Miami, Houston, or even Panama.

Instead, he continued to Lima, Peru, and forced flight attendants and passengers to keep restraining the unruly man for another couple hours.

The Allied Pilots Association said the pilot decided to divert after the unruly passenger escaped from the flex cuffs. The APA said it was unaware of any concern about a delay in doing so.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants told News 8 it was unaware of the incident, and would not be able to discuss it anyway.

American Airlines said it was the captain's call.

But some crewmembers insist it was the wrong one, and created unnecessary risks.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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