Delta Airlines Flight DL176, a Boeing 767-300 aircraft, diverted to Bangor, ME on the evening of February 29, 2008 due to a disruptive passenger. The flight had been en route from Atlanta to Dublin, Ireland when a male passenger became unruly, assaulted another passenger, and made threatening statements. He was taken into custody at Bangor International Airport and remanded to the Penobscot County Jail. The flight later resumed its journey to Dublin.
The passenger was identified in news reports as 44 year old Aiden Mackle, of Portadown, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland. He appeared in U.S. District Court yesterday, charged with interference with a flight crew and assault. An article on the Bangor Daily News website reported the following details about the incident:
The man, who had been visiting family in San Diego, became unruly Friday night about 2½ hours after the plane left Atlanta about 9:10 p.m., according to court documents. Mackle allegedly drank three or four of the small bottles of wine sold onboard. He then allegedly went to the restroom and illegally smoked a cigarette.A USA Today article about the incident added that, according to an affidavit presented in court, Mackle "...responded to an off-duty AirTran Airways pilot who told him that the flight may have to make an emergency landing, 'OK, I'm a terrorist. Go ahead and land the plane,' and then proceeded to punch an off-duty Delta flight attendant who warned him that he may have to be restrained."
When a flight attendant confronted him about the smoking and told the captain she was dealing with an unruly passenger, Mackle allegedly said he was associated with Osama bin Laden and was going to hijack the plane.
Mackle also punched an off-duty Delta employee and told airline employees that he was a terrorist, according to court documents.
A detention hearing is scheduled for March 5, 2008 to determine whether Mackle will be released on bail.
UPDATE March 10, 2008: The Boston Globe reported today that a federal judge has denied bail to Mr. Mackle. The news article said, "After a 40-minute hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk found probable cause for the charges and sided with Amie Blanchette of the U.S. Probation Office who testified that Mackle should be detained to insure that he will show up for trial." He will continue to be detained, pending trial on charges of assault and interfering with a flight crew.
UPDATE June 25, 2008: The Bangor Daily News reports that A Federal Court judge has sentenced Mr. Mackle to time already served in jail (116 days), two years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay $20,030 restitution to Delta Air Lines. In addition, he is being deported, and is forbidden to re-enter the U.S. without specific permission from immigration officials.