FAA dismissed 37 airline passengers for criminal prosecution – NBC Chicago


The Federal Aviation Administration said it has referred 37 cases involving unruly air passengers to the FBI for possible criminal prosecution since the number of disruptions to flights began to rise in January.

FAA and Justice Department officials said Thursday that over the past three months they have developed a process for the FAA to routinely send cases to the FBI, which forwards cases worthy of prosecution. to field offices for investigation.

A cellphone video captured the moment a Southwest Airlines flight attendant was assaulted during a disagreement over the airline’s mask policy.

They did not indicate how many of the 37 referrals resulted in charges.

The FAA said the cases referred to the FBI are among 227 cases this year for which it has taken enforcement action that could lead to civil penalties against passengers.

Airlines and their unions have pressured the FAA to push more aggressively for criminal prosecution in severe air rage cases.

The issue of passenger violence gained new attention last week when a 20-year-old Californian was accused of punching an American Airlines flight attendant in the face, sending her to hospital for to be cared for. He faces two federal charges.

Airlines have reported more than 5,000 incidents involving unruly passengers this year, including more than 3,600 involving people who have refused to wear face masks as required by federal regulations.

The FAA said it has launched 950 investigations into passenger behavior on flights this year. This is the highest total since the agency started tracking in 1995. Over the five years from 2016 to 2020, the agency conducted an average of 136 investigations per year.

The Association of Flight Attendants is pushing for a new no-fly list for people who assault crew members or other passengers. A person banned from an airline could potentially be banned from all.

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