Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Air marshal detained after cabin crew mistake him for a gun carrying passenger

An investigation is underway after it has been confirmed that a US Federal Air Marshal was removed from a Republic flight, operating in the United Express brand on Monday.

The air marshal was apprehended along with another marshal after the flight, UA3531 had landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday evening after a member of cabin crew mistook him for a gun-carrying passenger.

According to local media, a spokesperson for the airport confirmed the two men were taken to the airport’s police station where they were questioned by the FBI. A spokesperson for the FBI, Cindy Burnham advised that the marshal had been assigned to the flight and was on official duty. 

The Transportation Safety Administration also confirmed the air marshal was on official business but said there were protocols to prevent incidents like this from occurring and an investigation is ongoing. 

The placement of armed air marshals on flights operated by US airlines is commonplace in the USA and whilst the TSA doesn't disclose the exact number of federal air marshals or on which flights they are on. However, it's estimated there are currently 3,400 air marshals, who usually work in pairs on domestic flights and as part of a team of four on international flights. The actual flights they ride on is worked out by a computer programme, which takes into account a number of things, for example, the amount of fuel the aircraft has onboard, if the route overflies a significant area of importance or security concern like a power station, a military base or other government installation. The algorithm also looks at the destination, the origin and other risks factors, such as when a specific threat has either been identified or discovered or made.