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The Latest: Student pilot charged with trying to steal plane

September 20, 2018

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the arrest of a student pilot who board a vacant plane at a Florida airport (all times local):

11:45 p.m.

Authorities say a 22-year-old student pilot has been charged with criminal attempt to steal an airplane at a central Florida airport.

Orlando-Melbourne International Airport spokeswoman Lori Booker tells news outlets that the man also has been charged with a visa violation and criminal trespassing. His name hasn’t been released.

The case unfolded Thursday morning in Melbourne, on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Booker says the man boarded a vacant American Airlines Airbus A321, which can seat up to 200 passengers. Florida Today reports the plane was blocked in to prevent movement. Two technicians doing work inside the plane confronted him and tackled him. One called police while the other subdued him. He was arrested within minutes.

Booker says the case is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force. They’re trying to determine a motive.

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8:25 a.m.

Authorities in Florida say a 22-year-old student pilot boarded a vacant Airbus 321 American Airlines aircraft in a maintenance facility, causing a short lockdown at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport.

Airport spokeswoman Lori Booker tells news outlets the student drove to the curb outside the airport early Thursday, left his car running, hopped a fence and boarded the plane. A maintenance worker spotted him and police took him into custody.

Booker said officials conducted a sweep of the airfield before re-opening the airport. She says no passengers were in the area at the time.

Booker said the man was born in Trinidad and entered the United States through Canada. She says he has a Florida driver’s license, but didn’t know what school he attended.

Melbourne is 70 miles (112 kilometers) southeast of Orlando.

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This item has corrected the suspect’s age to 22.

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