Sonic boom scare: Berkshire woman, 25, arrested for 'endangering Stansted aircraft' released on bail
A woman arrested at Stansted Airport at the weekend in connection with an incident on a Jet2 plane that triggered an RAF fighter jet alert – and a sonic boom that prompted a deluge of 999 calls from startled residents – has since been released on bail.
The 25-year-old, from Maidenhead in Berkshire, was arrested on suspicion of endangering an aircraft, common assault and criminal damage.
She has been released on bail by Essex Police until Tuesday July 30.
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 on Saturday (June 22).
They were responding to an alert from Jet2 flight LS1503 from Stansted to Dalaman in Turkey, which departed 90 minutes late at 5.52pm.
About 45 minutes into its journey, the Airbus A321 turned around over the North Sea to return to Stansted as a result of what a Jet2 spokesperson called an "extremely disruptive" passenger on board.
National newspaper websites reported that a young woman, who appeared to be drunk, agitated and distressed, tried to get into the cockpit, threatened to kill fellow passengers and had to be restrained by cabin crew and passengers.
Police were waiting to escort the woman off the plane when it touched down. Flights at Stansted Airport were disrupted for about half an hour.
A sonic boom from the RAF jets triggered a flood of 999 calls to emergency services in Hertfordshire and Essex from people fearing that a bomb had exploded, a plane had crashed or a petrol station had been blown up.
The explosive sound was heard at about 6.45pm across an area stretching from south Essex to Norfolk, and sent people dashing out of homes, restaurants and pubs to see what had happened.
Witnesses on social media said that the boom was so powerful that it made the ground and houses shake, made windows vibrate, slammed doors shut and blew in blinds. There were reports of children crying and dogs, cats and birds being spooked. It also set off property alarms in North Street, Bishop's Stortford.
A spokesman for Stansted Airport said: "The sonic boom was caused by Typhoon jets escorting a Jet2.com aircraft into STN due to reports of a disruptive passenger on board. Operations were affected for about 30 minutes."
The Indie's Stansted reporter, Hollie Ryder, who lives in Rickling, said: "Our house shook! Villagers all came out their front doors and we were asking each other 'What the hell was that?'.
"Relatives in Great Hallingbury and Bury Green (Little Hadham) both phoned me asking did I hear that, and lots of questions are popping up on our village Facebook page."
A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shockwaves created when an object travelling through the air travels faster than the speed of sound, which is 767mph.