Stansted Airport drunken passenger who sparked sonic boom jailed for two years
A woman who sparked a sonic boom from RAF jets over Hertfordshire and Essex when she drunkenly tried to open a plane door on a flight from Stansted has been jailed for two years.
Chloe Haines was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday (February 12) for assault by beating and recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or people within.
The 26-year-old was a passenger on a Jet2 plane to Dalaman in Turkey on the evening of Saturday June 22 last year when she became verbally abusive to passengers and members of staff on board flight LS1503, which departed 90 minutes late at 5.52pm.
She tried to open the emergency exit doors, forcing the Airbus A321 to return to Stansted. Flights at the airport were disrupted for about half an hour.
Two Eurofighter Typhoon jets were scrambled from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, on what is known as a quick reaction alert (QRA), soon after 6.30pm.
They created a sonic boom which in turn triggered a flood of 999 calls to emergency services in Hertfordshire and Essex. The explosive sound was heard at about 6.45pm across an area stretching from south Essex to Norfolk.
Haines, from Loudwater, near High Wycombe, Bucks, appeared before Judge Gratwicke for sentencing having previously pleaded guilty at the same court in December.
Chief Inspector Lee Devall, Stansted Airport’s deputy commander, said: “This was a terrifying incident which left an entire plane, including experienced cabin crew members, in fear for their safety.
“If Haines had managed to open the door, there’s no telling what might have happened to those on board.
"The cabin crew put their lives at risk to prevent the door from being opened, even though they were incredibly frightened. They showed immense bravery and should be commended.
“I would also like to thank the officer in charge of this case, PC Philip Darts, for his hard work in collating the evidence against Haines.
“We will not tolerate dangerous or disruptive passengers. We appreciate that Haines has apologised profusely, and is mortified by her actions, but this must serve as a warning to anyone who drinks before boarding a flight: if you cause trouble, you will be arrested and we will seek an appropriate course of action to protect your fellow passengers.”
More by this authorPaul Winspear