F-16s escorted flight to Dulles after on-board fight

Reuters News
Posted: May 31, 2011 10:43 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fighter jets escorted a United Airlines plane back to Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., after a fight broke out between a pair of passengers on the flight bound for Ghana, officials said on Tuesday.

Police met the two passengers at the gate when Flight 990 landed back at Dulles early Monday morning, but neither passenger was injured and they were not arrested, said airport spokesman Rob Yingling.

The two F-16 fighter jets were dispatched from Andrews Air Force Base after the pilot reported the disturbance, said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander William Lewis, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

They shadowed the airline flight all the way back to Dulles, where it landed safely, Lewis said.

"They were just following typical procedures when you have disturbances," Lewis said.

"It's pretty commonplace whenever there's an airspace violation," he said.

United Airlines did not return calls.

It was unclear how many passengers were aboard the United flight, which took off from Dulles late on Sunday night, and what arrangements were made for the travelers to reach their destination.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Jerry Norton)