Apr 27, 2010 6:21 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Flight diverted after man claims explosives

An American citizen on a flight from Paris to Atlanta claimed to have a fake passport and said he had explosives in his luggage, forcing federal air marshals to intervene and the plane to land in Maine, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

Federal officials identified the passenger as Derek Stansberry, 26, a Florida defense contractor who was traveling alone, NBC News reported. Authorities said they believe the his passport is authentic.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

A flight attendant reportedly overheard Stansberry's comments and relayed them to a federal air marshal onboard. Passengers in the back of the plane were moved forward, and the he was taken to the back of the plane.

Stansberry and his luggage were searched but nothing suspicious or hazardous was found, NBC News reported.

There were 235 passengers and eight crew aboard the Delta Air Lines Airbus A330, which landed safely just after at 3:30 p.m. EDT at Bangor International Airport, Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott said.

Federal officials met the aircraft at the airport. The Transportation Security Administration said Stansberry was being interviewed by law enforcement.

Elliott said late Tuesday afternoon that the Airbus A330 remained on the ground in Bangor but that the airline planned to continue the flight to Atlanta.

All passengers were taken off the plane because it was an international flight and they needed to clear customs, said Rebecca Hupp, a spokeswoman for Bangor International Airport.

NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command based in Colorado Springs, did not launch any military fighters in response to the flight, spokesman John Cornelio said. "By the time we were brought into the equation," the passenger was already under the control of air marshals, Cornelio said from Colorado.

The Bangor airport is accustomed to dealing with diverted flights.

It's the first large U.S. airport for incoming European flights, and it's the last U.S. airport for outgoing flights, with uncluttered skies and one of the longest runways on the East Coast. Aircraft use the airport when there are mechanical problems, medical emergencies or unruly passengers.

Delta, based in Atlanta, is the world's largest airline and has a joint venture with Air France-KLM on flights across the Atlantic.




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