Blenheim Flight Arrest Details
Blenheim Flight Arrest
New Zealand Police National News Release 5:48pm 8 February 2008
Flight NZ2279, Blenheim to Christchurch, boarded in Blenheim at 0710 hours on Friday, 8 February 2008.
The Aircraft is a Beechcraft, 19 seater operated by Air New Zealand. The aircraft flies with one pilot and one co-pilot.
The aircraft had seven passengers, two male and five female.
The suspect, a female, was seated at the front of the aircraft on the left in Seat 1A, being directly behind the bulkhead. She is aged 33 years, resides in Blenheim, and is of African ethnicity.
About 10 minutes into the flight, shortly after the plane had levelled off, the suspect reportedly became agitated and approached the cockpit.
During this time the Pilot sustained a cut to his hand, however the details as to how this occurred are yet to be confirmed as the Pilot has been undergoing surgery.
The Co-pilot was told by the Pilot that the suspect had a knife and the Co-Pilot signalled to Air Traffic Control a Mayday and Hijacking.
The suspect is alleged to have made demands to go to Australia.
The Pilots suggested they return to Blenheim and the suspect refused this request.
Two passengers attempted to calm the woman but were repelled by her and as a consequence, one female passenger received a cut to her hand.
The suspect is alleged to have threatened them and told them she had a bomb.
The suspect is also alleged to have made threats in respect to the passengers.
The suspect maintained her stance with the knife in hand, standing directly behind the Pilots at the bulkhead.
Threats continued during the flight with the Pilot attempting to calm the suspect down by talking to her.
The pilots took the aircraft into a descent as they were approaching Christchurch Airport.
The suspect interfered with the aircraft control panel and physically moved the aircraft controls.
As part of the descent process the Pilots made a turn and the suspect lost balance and was no longer able to interfere with the controls.
She became silent but continued to have the knife in her possession.
Due to weather conditions, the descent and landing were rough.
The aircraft safely landed and came to a stop on the runway.
The suspect asked the Pilots to open the emergency exit door beside the bulkhead and they refused. She then directed them to open the pilot's window to allow the passengers to disembark and they convinced her that the best way would be through the exit door at the rear of the aircraft.
The suspect allowed the co-pilot to open that door and the passengers disembarked.
The Co-pilot, standing by the exit, saw the Pilot wrestling with the suspect on the floor of the aircraft while still in possession of the knife.
The co-pilot assisted the Pilot to disarm the suspect and in doing so the co-pilot's foot was cut. He did however disarm the suspect and threw the knife outside the aircraft.
Police boarded the aircraft and took control of the suspect.
When searched another knife was located in the footwear of the suspect.
The suspect has been arrested and charged with hijacking, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and injuring with intent to injure (x2). The hijacking charge carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.