Source AP ©

Man who tried to enter airliner cockpit during flight arrested

Passenger who tried to enter the cockpit of an airliner flying from the Canary Islands to Madrid with 140 passengers on its board was arrested by Spanish police on Tuesday.

The incident forced the pilot to turn the Spanair plane around and go back to the islands, although the plane eventually took off again for Madrid, said Jose Segura, the Spanish Interior Ministry's top representative in the archipelago off west Africa.

About 35 minutes after the initial takeoff from the island of Gran Canaria, the man got out of his seat and tried to get into the cockpit. "He said he wanted to say hello to the pilot," Segura said in a telephone interview.

Segura said there was a brief "situation of tension" but the man eventually went back to his seat. Upon landing in Gran Canaria, police arrested him. Segura said he would not characterize the incident as an attempted hijacking.

Segura said the man was in his early 40s, but he declined to give further details.