(CMR) Nishal Sankat (22) has been identified by US law enforcement agents as the Trinidadian pilot student, arrested and charged for attempting to steal an Airbus at the Melbourne International Airport in Florida.
CNN reports that he allegedly hopped a security fence early Thursday at Florida's Orlando Melbourne International Airport and boarded a passenger jet that was undergoing maintenance.
The student, who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago and has a Florida driver's license, parked his red sedan curbside around 2 a.m. before jumping the fence, running across the apron and boarding the American Airlines Airbus A321, spokeswoman Lori Booker told reporters at a news conference.
“There obviously seemed to be planning involved,”
she said. It the second time in recent weeks that someone illegally boarded an aircraft at an American airport. In Seattle last month, the plane was actually stolen.
In the latest incident, a maintenance supervisor and a technician were aboard the aircraft when one noticed a shadow behind him. The employees asked for the student's identity and badge.
When the student approached the cockpit, the maintenance workers grabbed him, held him down and took him off the aircraft, she said. Airport police arrived on the scene within 2 minutes and apprehended the 22-year-old student.
He has not been identified. His motive remains a mystery. The man was a part-time student at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, where he studied aviation management and had completed some flight training. The university is cooperating with authorities, he said, declining to provide the suspect's name.
A sticker on the student's car indicated he lived in the area at least recently, as did some of his Facebook posts.
Melbourne International Airport has reopened now after the early-morning security breach, Melbourne police said.