A Trinidad and Tobago national, who entered the United States from Canada, has been arrested Thursday after he jumped a security fence at Florida’s Orlando Melbourne International Airport and boarded a passenger jet.
Airport authorities said that the student pilot boarded the aircraft that was undergoing maintenance at the time.
They said the suspect, who has a Florida driver’s license, parked his vehicle, climbed a fence, ran across the tarmac and got into the American Airlines Airbus A321.
“There obviously seemed to be planning involved,” said spokeswoman Lori Booker at a news conference.
She said the 26-year-old man parked his car curbside, with the engine still on, jumped a fence and boarded an American Airlines plane that was out of service. Booker said an airport worker saw the man jet on the plane and called police.
Airport police arrived on the scene within minutes and apprehended the man.
Melbourne police have since taken him into custody. The car was placed on a flatbed truck and towed away.
All flights were suspended while authorities conducted a security sweep of the airport. The airport has since re-opened.
Booker said only two flights were affected.
“We are now a fully functioning airport. We believe in this instance our security worked just fine,” she told reporters.
The Trinidadian was a part-time student at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, where he studied aviation management and had completed some flight training, school spokesman Adam Lowenstein said.
The university is cooperating with authorities, he said, declining to provide the suspect’s name.