A Canadian man is in police custody in Chiang Mai after opening an emergency exit door on a Thai Airways flight as it was taxiing for takeoff.
The Bangkok Post reports that the incident happened on TG121 on Wednesday night, February 7, as the aircraft was preparing to take off from Chiang Mai Airport.
It’s understood the passenger, a Canadian engineer, identified as 40 year old Wong Sai Heung, rushed to the front, left exit door, successfully `opening it and triggering the deployment of the inflatable evacuation slide. He later told police he’d been suffering a panic attack and believed someone was going to attack him.
Another passenger helped crew members subdue the man, whose actions had brought the aircraft to a halt on the runway. Passengers were evacuated and subsequently departed on another flight some 3 hours later at 12.34am.
Ronnakorn Chalermsanyakorn, general manager of Chiang Mai Airport, says the inflatable slide had to be cut away and the aircraft taken to a parking bay.
The runway was temporarily blocked until around 10.50pm, affecting nearly 2,300 passengers on 13 aircraft, including 3 departing flights and 8 incoming ones that had to circle the airport. It’s understood two flights had to be diverted to other airports.
Heung has been charged with endangering an aircraft and its passengers and refusing to obey the orders of the flight’s captain. His bail request has been refused and the Canadian embassy has been notified.
Investigators are now working with engineers from Thai Airways to decide if the Canadian is potentially liable for damaging the aircraft.
Meanwhile, Thai Airways issued a statement to confirm all passengers and crew from the affected flight are safe.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post