FAA refers 39 more unruly US airline passengers to FBI

WASHINGTON, Aug 8 (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday said it has referred 39 unruly passengers to the FBI for criminal investigation this year, as it continues its zero-tolerance policy over aggressive onboard incidents.

The new cases, including 22 in the second quarter of 2023, bring the total of such referrals for violent and threatening behaviour on planes to more than 270 since late 2021.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to prioritize investigations of airline passengers committing assaults following a 500% spike in incidents in 2021.

The FAA last year said its crackdown on unruly passengers would become permanent even after the end of a mask mandate tied to most of the earlier reported incidents.

The regulator said the rate of passenger incidents has dropped by 80% since record highs in early 2021, but continues to be too high.

“Unruly behavior poses serious safety concerns for passengers and crew alike, which is why we are addressing this issue aggressively, said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 

Reported unruly passenger incidents in 2021 jumped to 5,981, which included 4,290 mask-related incidents and has fallen to 1,177 so far this year. The FAA proposed $5 million in fines in 2021 and $8.4 million last year.

There were 207 such passenger incidents reported in July, down from the March 2021 high of 720.

The new cases included an April incident when a passenger yelled, cursed, threw objects at passengers and had to be restrained in cuffs, as well assaults of flight attendants, other passengers and an attempt to breach a cockpit.

In June, a 45-year-old Houston man was arrested after being charged with menacing a Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) crew in June 2022 that forced the flight from Las Vegas to Houston to divert to Dallas Love Field.

In March, a bipartisan group of lawmakers made a new push for legislation to bar passengers fined or convicted of serious physical violence from commercial flights, arguing enhanced penalties are a strong deterrent needed to improve aviation safety.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Porter and Sharon Singleton

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/648877816/g_X9HypeWGI5dkR2?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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