|Security alert: An intruder triggered a major security alert at Heathrow Airport after allegedly breaking through a security fence and locking himself inside an empty British Airways 747 passenger jet (file photo)|
An intruder triggered a major security alert at Heathrow Airport after allegedly breaking through a security fence and locking himself inside an empty British Airways 747 passenger jet.
The 38-year-old man, a Portuguese national, was arrested and later charged with three offences, including unlawfully being on an aircraft. Police were alerted shortly after 11.30am on Saturday to reports a suspect had breached security on the Heathrow perimeter and reached the BA engineering base in Hatton Cross.
There he was allegedly spotted climbing into the cabin of the parked aircraft before fleeing to the flight deck and locking himself behind the high-security cockpit doors.
A source said that it was impossible for security staff to get to him because the bomb and bullet proof cockpit doors are designed to protect the pilot and co-pilot should a terrorist try to take over the plane in mid-flight. 'It was a very difficult and complex situation and in the end the fire brigade had to be called to the plane and carried out a long and very protracted operation to get into the cockpit from outside.
'Eventuallly they managed to gain access to the cockpit and police were able to storm in and arrested the intruder,' said the source, who asked not to be named. 'It is a terrifying situation when you think about it. Here is a man who not only has managed to go air-side at one of the world's busiest airports but he has successfully got to a Boeing 747 jet liner and found it open and was able to climb aboard.
'Then he has got onto the flight deck and barricaded himself in using the plane's own anti-terrorist equipment. 'As far as I know there is no suggestion he is in anyway linked to terrorism but image if he had been a terrorist with the ability to handle the controls of a 747. Although it was away from the main runway, the plane could have caused a major incident and even worse, if it had taxied and taken off,' the source added.
Police confirmed tonight that there had been an incident on a parked aircraft at Heathrow but said that it was not believed to be terror-related. In a statement a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that a 38-year-old man had been arrested and was being held in custody at a West London police station. He was expected to appear in court 'at the earliest opportunity.'
- Daily Mail