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Man banging on cockpit door, prompting hijack scare, was just looking for toilet

By now, one would think that every airline passenger knows that the cockpit of a jet is in the direct fore of the aircraft. While relieving oneself is certainly of paramount importance, engineers who design jet planes thought that the pilots ought to be able to see, you know, out of the front of the plane. One Aussie man, desperate for a toilet, evidently mistook the locked cockpit door of a Boeing 737 as an uncouth traveler taking way too much time to finish up.

According to a Reuters report on April 26, as carried by MSN News, 28-year-old passenger Matt Lockley began to bang of the cockpit door on his flight on Friday from Brisbane to the Indonesian holiday island of Bali. The pilot of the craft, Neil Thomas Cooper, saw Lockley in the video feed in the cockpit, and responded by alerting Indonesian traffic controllers that the aircraft was under a possible hijacking. Flight attendants then restrained Lockley and handcuffed him.

Bali police spokesman Heri Wiyanto said: “The flight was about to land and (Lockley) was sleeping. The flight attendant woke him up and he went to the toilet. At the time, he thought the cockpit door was the toilet door.” Police investigators said they initially thought Lockley was drunk. As it turns out, he was hopped up on pain medication – four Panadol and two Voltaren pills.

Says the Reuters report:

Lockley, who was travelling to visit his Indonesian wife, was shown on local television shortly after the flight surrounded by armed security and a mob of reporters at the airport. Copies of his identification cards were also shown to the media.

Virgin Australia, who was operating the Boeing, said a total of 137 passengers and seven crew members were on board the flight, and that none were placed in any danger. Lockley was whisked off the plane under heavy guard.

Lockley has since stated that he was taking the medication to combat depression, and denied being drunk. The married Lockley, dressed in shorts and flip flops, said he was flying to the resort island to search for his Indonesian wife with whom he had somehow lost contact. After the aircraft touched down, security forces rushed into the plane. The Bali airport was briefly shut down, and several flights were delayed or diverted from landing. Passengers reported Lockley as looking “unstable and appearing paranoid,” reports news.com.au.

“According to him, he was not drunk but suffering from depression due to a family problem,” Wiyanto said. Lockley was forced to provide DNA and blood samples to investigators. The Queensland, Australia man claimed to have been “having hallucinations that somebody followed him and wanted to steal his bag,” Wiyanto said. “According to him, he banged the cockpit door as he thought it was the toilet door.”

A spokesman for the Australian embassy in Jakarta said: “We can confirm the arrest of a Queensland man following an incident on board the Virgin airline flight to (Balinese capital) Denpasar.” Indonesian officials said Lockley will likely not be formally charged.