Dubai: An off-duty pilot has been jailed for a year for getting intoxicated on alcohol, cursing passengers and risking their lives, when he threatened to have an aircraft downed by a missile.
On an Emirates flight flying from Madrid to Dubai in June 2018, a Romanian stewardess encountered the off-duty Emirati pilot, who was drunk and behaved in an unruly manner.
The trouble started as the crew were embarking passengers in Madrid and the plane was getting ready for departure, when the Emirati pilot, 27, who was a passenger on-board, asked the Romanian stewardess if smoking was allowed on the aircraft.
Shortly after being seated, the off-duty pilot insulted and assaulted the stewardess and grabbed two beers without the crew members’ permission and consumed more liquor.
When crew members tried to talk him into behaving properly and to refrain from using foul language, he was rude to a passenger. Then stewardess then restrained him with plastic handcuffs.
Once he was restrained in his seat, the Emirati turned more aggressive and shouted loudly that he would have his Iraqi friend down the plane with a missile over Baghdad.
He also hit his head repeatedly on the TV screen in front of him and destroyed it, and damaged a window before threatening to follow the Romanian to her house and kill her.
He was arrested by the police once the plane landed at Dubai International Airport.
On Wednesday, the Dubai Court of First Instance jailed the accused for a year, after he pleaded not guilty.
Citing grounds of leniency, presiding judge Fahd Al Shamsi handed the accused a one-year imprisonment, after he provided the court with a written waiver that he obtained from the Romanian stewardess.
Court records said the defendant got drunk and endangered the safety of the flight and passengers, when he said he would have the plane blown up mid-air.
The accused pleaded guilty when he showed up court.
The Romanian victim testified in court, saying: “Four staff from the UAE embassy in Spain escorted him to the plane. I was told that he could not stay anymore in Madrid because of residency issues. When he first walked into the plane, he addressed me jokingly saying ‘I haven’t smoked in 15 minutes’. I replied that smoking was not permitted on the plane. He acted rowdily and ran towards the plane’s kitchen, taking two beers without permission. He disturbed the passengers, shouting and cursing at them. He also threatened to kill me and claimed he would blow up the plane because he was carrying explosives,” she told the court.
An Uzbek hostess also testified on the defendant’s behaviour mid-flight. “He took four beers without permission. When we were cruising above Iraq, he said that he had called his friend in Baghdad and asked him to shoot down the plane with a missile. He shouted that we were all going to die,” she said.
The ruling remains subject to appeal.