On 31st May, Malaysia Airlines flight MH128 returned to Melbourne Airport after a mentally ill passenger tried to enter the cockpit, stating he had explosives onboard. A statement has been released by the airline:
Other sources, including Flightradar24, state that a possible hijacker announced he had “explosives on board,” prompting the pilots to return to Melbourne. The aircraft made a safe landing and parked at a remote stand at the airport.
Melbourne Airport went into lockdown while security officials dealt with the incident. The disruptive passenger was tackled and apprehended by passengers onboard before he was arrested by armed police who stormed the aircraft. Some passengers claim the man was holding an “electronic frequency” device, not a bomb.
#MH128 took off at 23:27. Reached a maximum altitude of 6400 ft at 23:31. Landed at 23:41, after being airborne for 14 minutes.
The aircraft involved is 5 year old Airbus A330-343 9M-MTI (MSN 1337), fitted with Pratt & Whittney PW4170 turbofans and is configured in a C27Y263 cabin configuration.
This official statement was released by Malaysia Airlines right after the incident:
MH128, which had departed Melbourne Airport at 11.11pm scheduled to arrive Kuala Lumpur at 5.28am on 1 June, made a turn back to Melbourne after the operating Captain was alerted by a cabin crew of a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit.
Malaysia Airlines would like to stress that at no point was the aircraft ‘hijacked’.
MH128 safely landed in Melbourne airport at 11.41pm.
Following the incident on MH128, the disruptive passenger has been apprehended by airport security. Malaysia Airlines together with the Australian authorities will be investigating the incident.
Safety and security are of utmost priority to malaysia airlines. The airline wishes to apologise for the inconvenience caused.
Passengers have safely disembarked the aircraft and will be screened by Australian authorities.
They will be accommodated at hotels and offered on the next available flight or on other carriers.
Updated as 12.19am (GMT+8), 1 Jun 2017.
A later statement, confirming some suspicions, was released 3 hours after the landing:
“MH128, which had departed Melbourne Airport at 11.11pm scheduled to arrive Kuala Lumpur at 5.28am on 1 June, made a turn back to Melbourne after the operating Captain was alerted by a cabin crew of a passenger attempting to enter the cockpit.
Malaysia Airlines would like to stress that at no point was the aircraft ‘hijacked'”. The passenger was apprehended by security forces. The passengers have disembarked the aircraft in the meantime and have been taken to hotels.”
On June 1st 2017 Australia’s Police reported the 25 year old male, Sri Lankan Citizen, had been released from a psychiatric facility hours before boarding the flight. They are no longer handling this as a case of possible terrorism, but as an issue of mental health.