Swedish pilot wrests gun from hijacker

Swedish pilot Mikael Andersson, 32, was the hero of an attempted hijacking of a plane in Portugal on Friday. The drama unfolded shortly after take off from Cascais, west of Lisbon, on Friday.

Andersson managed to overpower and disarm the would-be hijacker after a gun had been pointed at his head. Posing as a photographer, the hijacker – a former soldier – had boarded the plane in an attempt to flee having shot two of his neighbours in a land dispute earlier in the day, according to Portuguese media reports.

Andersson avoided crashing the plane by ascending, allowing the other two passengers, two parachutists, to jump from the aircraft to safety.

But the hijacker managed to wrestle control of the aircraft.

“I was convinced that he was about to fly the plane into a house, because he was aiming for a residential area,” Andersson told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

The pilot averted disaster by taking the co-pilot’s place, fighting for control of the plane and jettisoning fuel so that it crashed at Tires airport near Lisbon.

On landing, Andersson fled the aircraft and the hijacker committed suicide by shooting himself.

Andersson confirmed that the experience had not given him cause to reconsider his position at the private Portuguese airline.

“I’m presuming that this was a one off,” he said of the hijacking drama.

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Drunken airline pilot cleared by district court

A Scandinavian Airlines pilot who failed a breathalyzer test prior to be scheduled to fly a plane out of Arlanda airport in May this year, has been cleared by the Attunda District Court.

Drunken airline pilot cleared by district court

“This is the first case of flying under the influence tried in a court and it is new legislation that is being tested,” said Tommy Larsson of the Swedish Airline Pilots Association (Svensk Pilotförening) to news agency TT, adding that they were happy with the result.

The court found that it wasn’t proven that the man had started an assignment of “essential importance for air safety” when he was found to be over the limit, which would have been necessary to find him guilty of flying under the influence.

Had the pilot begun the security checks of the aircraft, he would have been convicted, according to the court.

The Scandinavian Airlines crew members were asked to take the test in May while they were carrying out their duties prior to take-off. One of the pilots turned out to be over the legal limit.

According to an Aftonbladet source, the man had been working on the outer safety checks of the craft when he tested positive for alcohol in the border police test.

The man had a blood alcohol content of over 1.0 promille, which is 0.8 promille over the limit. The limit in Sweden is a blood alcohol content exceeding 0.2 promille alcohol, both for driving and flying.

However, at SAS, the rules are even stricter, prohibiting pilots to fly unless they are under the 0.2 promille limit eight hours before take-off.

After testing positive for alcohol the man was not allowed to fly and has since been relieved of his duties and has lost his flight certificate.

The court does not contest that the man was not in any state to fly the plane, but found that he could not be found guilty of flying under the influence, which was good news according to the Pilot’s Association:

“We don’t defend his actions, just the criminal charge. It is important to separate what is written in the SAS policy and in the legislation,” said Larsson to TT.

New rules came into effect in September 2010, making it possible for police to carry out checks on crew. At the Arlanda and Bromma airports near Stockholm, 1,452 people have been checked between January and September 2012.

TT/The Local/rm