England

Stansted emergency landing: Pair 'threatened to blow up plane'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe trial of the two men is expected to last five weeks

Two men threatened to kill passengers and blow up a Boeing 777 at 30,000 feet, a court has heard.

The plane made an emergency landing at Stansted Airport in Essex and fighter jets were scrambled, Chelmsford Crown Court was told.

Tayyab Subhani, 30, of Townley Street, and Mohammed Safdar, 42, of Hallam Crescent, Nelson, Lancashire, deny endangering the safety of an aircraft.

The court heard neither was a "terrorist" or "extremist".

Prosecutor Brian O'Neill QC told jurors that neither man was capable of carrying out the threats but the claim was made deliberately and the pilot had no option but to take it seriously.

'Jets escorted airliner'

He said: "That day Pakistan Airlines flight PK709 took off from Lahore heading for Manchester. It never arrived at its intended destination.

"As a result of the behaviour of these two defendants, especially Mr Safdar, the flight had to be diverted to Stansted and was escorted by two RAF Typhoon fighter jets.

"This behaviour involved threats to kill members of the cabin crew, threats to kill passengers and threats to blow up the plane whilst it was in flight.

"Such utterances, if made at ground level, may sometimes be capable of being ignored or not being taken seriously but when those threats are made in flight at 30,000 feet on a commercial jet, that's not an option."

Some passengers had reported seeing the men, who were returning from Mr Safdar's mother's funeral with his daughter and niece, behaving in a "rude and aggressive" manner before the flight took off, he added.

When cabin crew made an announcement asking for a medical professional to assist an elderly passenger who had fallen ill, Mr Safdar offered his services.

'Fear and panic'

The crew established he had no medical credentials and turned him away, resulting in a confrontation, the court heard.

Mr Safdar, encouraged by Mr Subhani, then made threats to kill crew and passengers, resulting in "fear and panic", Mr O'Neill said.

The alleged threats, made in Urdu, included the words: "No more crew, no more passengers, finish everything."

The pilot, who described the incident as the most serious of his career, contacted UK air traffic control and was instructed to begin emergency procedures.

The defendants told police the allegations were lies and members of the cabin crew had encouraged passengers to corroborate the story.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites