Wednesday 17 October, 2018

Updated: Trini man allegedly attempted to steal Florida plane

Nishal Sankat, a former student of Hillview College, has been booked for a visa violation and criminal trespassing and has since been charged with a criminal attempt to steal an airplane from a Florida airport early on Thursday. Photo via Facebook.

Nishal Sankat, a former student of Hillview College, has been booked for a visa violation and criminal trespassing and has since been charged with a criminal attempt to steal an airplane from a Florida airport early on Thursday. Photo via Facebook.

The Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Florida has been reopened after a 26-year-old student pilot from Trinidad breached the airport’s security early on Thursday.

According to reports from US news outlets, Nishal Sankat drove to the airport, parked at the curb, left his car running, scaled a barbed-wire fence and boarded an Airbus 321 American Airlines aircraft at a maintenance facility, disrupting travel at the facility.

Airport maintenance workers spotted him getting onto the aircraft and in the space of two minutes, they tackled him and held him until the authorities arrived.

Sankat was taken into custody by Melbourne police just minutes later.

Two flights were delayed and employees and passengers were removed from the terminal during the incident.

The 26-year-old’s daring dash interrupted airport operations for around five hours.

Airport spokeswoman Lori Booker said officials conducted a sweep of the airfield before reopening the airport.

A robotic arm was used to search his car to make sure there were no explosives. The car was then towed from the airport.

Booker confirmed that Trinidad-born Sankat, who entered the United States through Canada, has a Florida driver's license. He is a student pilot studying aviation management part-time at Florida Institute of Technology, and according to a tweet from the University, he has completed "some" flight training.

He was taken to the Brevard County Jail.

Sankat has been booked for a visa violation and criminal trespassing and has since been charged with a criminal attempt to steal an airplane.

The 26-year-old is a former student of Hillview College in Tunapuna. 

Police, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are involved in the investigation.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with the suspect's name and the charges laid against him. 

 

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