Man charged with trying to steal passenger jet at Orlando airport

Irving Hamilton
September 24, 2018

Florida student jumps airport fence, tries to steal American Airlines passenger jet A student pilot has been arrested after he allegedly hopped a security fence, boarded and tried to steal an American Airlines passenger jet from the Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Florida.

The incident started with the man driving to a curb outside the airport, leaving his auto running, and then hopping a fence and boarding an Airbus 321 American Airlines aircraft sitting in a maintenance facility, Booker said.

Sankat is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, a dual island nation in the Caribbean, and has a Florida driver's license, authorities said.

Melbourne police took Sankat into custody and airport spokeswoman Lori Booker praised the airline's staff and police for taking swift action.

Agent Christopher Castiello with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, who also testified, said that Graves, who was working on the aircraft when Sankat came on board, told him that he took Sankat to a hanger nearby on a golf cart after noticing he did not have the proper ID to be on the aircraft. They asked him to show his badge authorising his presence on the aircraft.

Florida news outlets reported that Sankat was challenged by two workers who were on board the plane as he attempted to enter the cockpit. "Our airport police department responded within two minutes".

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In a statement to the Trinidad paper, the Daily Express, the Sankat family said they were focusing "on providing all the legal, mental, emotional and parental support possible".

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Sankat received his commercial pilot's certification in January, was qualified to fly multi-engine aircraft and was instrument rated. "All of us have a part to play in breaking the stigma of mental health and wellness and making it comfortable for persons who need help, to seek it", Garcia said.

Booker said officials conducted a sweep of the airfield before re-opening the airport.

The airport returned to normal operations after five hours.

The airline had five jets at the maintenance center, an American Airlines spokesman said. Only two flights were affected by the closure. "We're obviously going to review all our security".

"Nishal went to good schools, had good grades, had the love and support of family and friends and still, something was missing for him that brought him to this point".

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