CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) — A flight headed from Washington to Denver had to return to Dulles International Airport after a pilot told air traffic controllers a passenger had become violent and needed to be restrained by other passengers.
United Airlines spokesman Luke Punzenberger said in an emailed statement that Flight 1074 returned after takeoff Monday evening. Local police met the aircraft at the gate and detained the passenger, he said. His statement did not provide further details about what happened on board the Boeing 737.
Airport spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs said the passenger was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and has not been charged.
Recordings of communications between pilots and air traffic controllers on the website LiveATC.net indicate pilots turned around after a passenger ran toward the cockpit and had to be restrained.
The pilot, in a calm voice, said he was “declaring an emergency due to a passenger disturbance. He’s restrained. We need to return to the airport,” according to the LiveATC.net recording.
The pilot later explained that “we had a passenger becoming violent” and that he “ran toward the cockpit.”
After being asked by controllers, he reported that the incident was a “Level 2” disturbance, the second lowest level of severity on a four-level scale used by the industry. A Level 2 disturbance indicates physically abusive behavior but no life-threatening behavior.