Drunken brawl forces Virgin jumbo to make emergency landing

Drunken brawl forces Virgin jumbo to make emergency landing

A Virgin Atlantic jumbo heading to Manchester was forced to make an emergency landing after a passenger allegedly had a fight onboard with his wife and father-in-law at cruising altitude.

The packed Boeing 747-400 was scheduled to fly direct from Orlando, Florida, to Manchester but the pilot was forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, after cabin crew said the male passenger was being “disruptive” and had been drinking and arguing with relatives.

Canadian police met the plane, carrying 451 passengers and 17 crew, when it landed and arrested 44-year-old British man Roy Anthony Heaps.

He was taken into custody and appeared in court charged with assault, uttering threats, mischief and interfering with an air crew, Canadian authorities said.

Heaps was remanded in custody, and is due to appear before the court in Gander again today.

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It is thought his relatives continued with their journey and the plane eventually arrived in Manchester after a delay of almost three hours.

A Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman confirmed an incident had taken place.

She said: “Virgin Atlantic can confirm that flight VS74 from Orlando to Manchester diverted to Gander, Canada, owing to a passenger behaving in a disruptive manner on board.

“Authorities met the aircraft in Gander and the passenger was arrested and charged. The safety of our passengers and crew is of paramount importance.

“Disruptive passengers are rare on Virgin Atlantic flights, but like all British airlines we take such behaviour very seriously. We will not tolerate disruptive behaviour by passengers and always report it.”