NEW YORK CITY – Air transportation officials reportedly came close to scrambling fighter jets to escort a Delta airlines flight from North Carolina to New York City after the co-pilot radioed that a person with a “thick foreign accent” had the code to the cockpit and was trying to gain entrance.
The tense situation developed after the co-pilot radioed that the pilot had left the cockpit and was “missing” while the unknown man was at the cockpit door.
The plane made an emergency landing following instructions from air traffic controllers and no one was hurt during the incident.
As it turned out, the pilot had gone to the back of the plane to use the washroom facilities and became stuck in the bathroom when he could not get the door to unlatch.
Investigators said the pilot apparently told a man outside the bathroom the passcode to the cockpit entry lock to inform the co-pilot but the co-pilot was unaware of the situation and radioed air traffic controllers. The man with the accent never made it into the cockpit.
Cockpit doors on US airliners were fortified and equipped with additional locks and safety protocols after the Sept.11 hijackings that resulted in terrorists gaining control of four jumbo jets.
The incident is under investigation by the FAA and federal officials.