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Two men arrested for 'trying to get into cockpit several times' on flight from Pakistan to Britain causing plane to be diverted by Typhoon fighter jets
- Pakistan International Airlines passenger plane diverted to Stansted
- MoD say Typhoon jet launched to 'investigate an incident'
- Understood incident happened 10 minutes before it was due to land
- Two men have been arrested on suspicion of 'endangerment of an aircraft'
PUBLISHED:08:07 EST, 24 May 2013| UPDATED:10:28 EST, 24 May 2013
Two men had repeatedly tried get into the cockpit of a passenger plane which had to be escorted by an RAF Typhoon jet as it travelled from Pakistan to the UK.
Police have arrested two men on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft today after the plane was diverted to Stansted Airport.
Officers boarded Pakistan International Airlines flight PK709, which is believed to have been carrying 297 passengers bound for Manchester, after it landed at Stansted and removed the men, aged 30 and 41, from the plane.
According to one of the passengers, the aircraft's cabin crew said two men had repeatedly tried to get into the cockpit.
The Pakistan International Airlines plane that was escorted into Stansted by Typhoon jets today
The PIA plane as it was being escorted by the RAF Typhoon jet
Umari Nauman told Sky News: 'The cabin crew informed us that basically they tried to come into the cockpit a few times and because they had been asked not to do that they got into a bit of an argument with the crew and made a few threats.'
She said all the passengers had been ordered to leave their possessions on board before leaving the plane.
Ms Nauman also said helicopters escorted the aircraft before landing.
It is thought that the incident might have been sparked by a scuffle or a disagreement among passengers.
A police spokesman said: 'Essex Police have boarded a passenger plane diverted to Stansted Airport and two men have been arrested on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft. They have been removed from the plane.'
The RAF jet was scrambled following an incident around 10 minutes before the plane, which departed from Lahore, was due to land in Manchester at 2pm.
The flight from Lahore to Manchester was diverted to Stansted following the 'incident' 10 minutes before it was due to land
The incident is not thought to be terrorism-related at this stage, it is understood.
A Pakistan International Airlines spokesman said the plane had now landed in the UK but it was not immediately in communication with the pilot.
Mahmouda Aslam, 50, from Prestwich, Manchester, was at the airport awaiting her husband, Mohammed on the flight.
After speaking to her husband on his mobile, she said: 'I said, "Are you alright? Are you scared?" He said, "We are all OK. The flight is full of police.'
The pilot asked for the plane to be diverted to Stansted as a precaution after becoming concerned about a passenger who was shouting, The Guardian has reported.
This image shows how the plane was moved away from the passenger terminals after it landed at Stansted
The pilot was satisfied the incident had been resolved, according to the newspaper.
A spokesman for Stansted Airport said passengers were being taken off the plane.
'They will be taken to a reception centre on the airport where police may wish to interview them about what they have seen.
'At some point police and the airline will arrange for their onward transportation to Manchester.'
Eurocontrol, Europe's air navigation safety watchdog, has said 'significant' delays are expected at Stansted Airport following an 'incident with a 777 declaring an emergency', ITV News has reported.
Officers boarded the plane after it landed at Stansted and removed two men from the plane
Family and friends of passengers of the plane which was diverted to Stansted wait at Manchester Airport to find out what has happened
The MoD has said a total of 25 Quick Reaction Alerts were launched in 2012.
The very same plane on the very same flight - from Lahore to Manchester - had been diverted to Stansted on September 7 2011 due to a bomb scare.
Today's flight had left Lahore at 9.35am local time and was thought to have been carrying 297 passengers.
An MoD spokesman said the incident was now a police matter and 'our involvement is over'.
He said Typhoon jets can be scrambled after the pilot or crew of a passenger aircraft sends out an emergency signal.
People waiting at Manchester Airport speak to a PCSO after the PIA flight was diverted to Stansted
Stansted Airport has said at some point police and the airline will arrange for the passengers to be taken to Manchester
'The purpose of going up is to investigate what the situation is,' he said. 'Often when a Quick Reaction Alert aircraft is launched the details are not known, but it is known that a signal has been sent.
'Part of the purpose of sending a Typhoon up is to have a look and see what they can see.'
The arrests come at a sensitive time in Pakistani politics following a string of terror attacks in the country after the presidential elections.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility yesterday for a bomb that killed 11 security personnel and two civilians in the southwestern city of Quetta.
It was the second major attack since the May 11 general election which marked the first transition between civilian governments in Pakistan's turbulent history after a campaign marred by violence.
Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif has called for talks with the Pakistani Taliban in a bid to end rising militancy.