BOSTON (WHDH) - A 33-year-old Leominster man who is facing charges after an attempted attack aboard a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Boston is set to appear in federal court Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutors say Francisco Severo Torres tried to stab a flight attendant with a broken spoon and unlock an emergency exit door.
Torres was arrested Sunday after passengers tackled him and the flight landed safely at Logan Airport. He is charged with one count of interference and attempted interference with flight crew members and attendants using a dangerous weapon.
Officials say Torres could face up to life in prison.
Boston’s aviation issues are now in the spotlight on Capitol Hill. Texas Senator Ted Cruz brought up two issues this week at Logan Airport during a hearing on airline safety, including Torres’ threatening outburst and another incident on the same day when two United Airlines planes clipped wings on the tarmac.
“What the heck is going on in air travel?” Cruz asked.
Acting FAA administrator Billy Nolan had no answers for why these things are happening in Boston, but when it comes to passenger misconduct, he says the FAA has adopted a zero tolerance policy.
“I can assure you that we will take every step, every tool that we have at our disposal to ensure that action takes place against any perpetrator,” Nolan said. “it is just simply not allowed.”
Massachusetts Congressman Stephen Lynch is also looking for answers, asking for an urgent review of FAA flight operations at Logan, including the close call at Logan last week when a Learjet 60 allegedly took off without clearance just as a JetBlue passenger jet was preparing to land on an intersecting runway.
“There’s been a pattern of incidents here that I think is disturbing,” Lynch said. “I’m not saying they’re all connected, but they’ve all happened at Logan Airport and we need to be diligent in making sure that it’s safe.”
The FAA is set to hold a safety summit on airline issues next week.
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