“A drunk Russian man who unsuccessfully tried to hijack an Aeroflot passenger flight was detained by police on Tuesday after the plane made an emergency landing in Siberia, Russian investigators said,” according to Reuters. The passenger claimed to be armed, attempted to break into the cockpit mid-flight and demanded the Aeroflot flight SU 1515 immediately change course.
According to reports he wanted the flight to divert to Afghanistan. The flight took off from the Siberian city of Surgut and was destined for Moscow prior to the bizarre incident.
The man ended up not being armed, “State television channel Rossiya-24 showed footage of masked security officers seizing the man on board the plane and leading him out with his hands behind his back,” the Reuters report continued, also stating that drunken incidents on flights are fairly normal on commercial flight Russia, yet they aren’t often this severe.
A criminal investigation has been opened against the suspect who faces a seven to twelve-year sentence for the charge of ‘hijacking a plane while threatening to use violence.’
Incidents On Other Russian Flights
Aeroflot has handled drunken situations of flights quite poorly in the past, “Captain Alexander Cheplevsky, who had allegedly celebrated his birthday the previous day according to one Russian newspaper, seemed barely coherent and repeated the words “duration of the flight” three times, passengers were quoted as saying,” reads a February 2009 article from The Telegraph. “It’s not such a big deal if the pilot is drunk. Really, all he has to do is press a button and the plane flies itself. The worst that could happen is he’ll trip over something in the cockpit,” an English language Moscow Times reporter who was on the flight relayed concerning the incident.
The crew was eventually replaced after three hours after a complaint by Russian celebrity Ksenia Sobchak, whose father was a mentor to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Up until her calling the airline, Aeroflot wasn’t too concerned with other passengers calling about the drunkenness of their pilot.
In March 2010, it was discovered that a drunken Aeroflot pilot was responsible for his death and 87 others. “The disaster took place in September 2008 in Siberia and was initially put down to engine failure, but investigators say they are now certain that the pilot, Rodion Medvedev, had been drinking,” The Telegraph reported in 2010. However, the drunken incidents didn’t stop with that tragedy in Russia.
“The man, flying on S7 flight 582 to the Russian city of Novosibirsk, had to be restrained by fellow passengers when the cabin crew were unable to subdue the 26-year-old,” the Independent reported earlier this year. Reports state he was flying from Bangkok to Russia.
The passenger was asked to the rear kitchen after becoming belligerently drunk during the flight. Crew members attempted to calm the situation (the drunk passenger) after he began threatening everyone in his vicinity.
“With the help of other passengers the man was restrained, however went on to behave inadequately, trying to hit his head against the floor. During the flight he was watched by a cabin crew member and a doctor. Right after landing he was handed over to police officers and fined for disorderly conduct,” stated S7 the Russian airline in a press release about the situation. However, they left out that the man had to be restrained with tape and belts in order to cease being a problem for others on the flight.
“A State Duma deputy from the Communist Party submitted draft legislation proposing the prohibition of alcohol consumption on flights, a move which many officials have called for in light of several instances of drunken debauchery by Russian passengers,” The Moscow Times reported in June 2014. ”
“There should be no exceptions, not for lawmakers, not for ordinary citizens, not for economy passengers, and not for those in business class,” Vadim Solovyev said in comments about the situation. He was motivated to push this legislation by a drunk businessman being sentenced 4 1-2 years in prison for attempting to hijack a plan earlier in 2014. Shortly prior, a former Russian politician was charged with hooliganism after his violent drunken antics on a flight.
In lieu of recent drunken attempts of Russian flights, the measure obviously did not pass.