The Federal Aviation Administration investigated an episode in which an AirTran flight was taxied back to the gate in Atlanta last month and found no violations of safety rules, another blow to the story of a NASA employee who says he helped thwart a dry run of Muslim hijackers on the plane.
“The FAA is charged with enforcing civil air safety violations and among those are rules that require passengers to comply with flight attendant instructions and about use of electronic devices,” FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen tells TPMmuckraker. “We found no violations of the regulations.” She said the investigation of the Nov. 17 incident was closed Friday.Those findings are at odds with the tale of Todd Petruna, a Houston man whose story of Arabic-speaking would-be hijackers casing the flight has been trumpeted by right-wing blogs.
In Petruna’s version of the events, several members of a large group of Muslim men loudly defied instructions from flight attendants — including calling one an “infidel dog” when she asked them to switch off the porn they were watching on the runway.
An AirTran spokesman tells TPMmuckraker that the company is not investigating what happened on the flight, and has not heard of any legal action by Petruna — a prospect he mentioned in an interview this morning.
Exactly what happened on the flight is not entirely clear. But officials have told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the plane was brought back to the gate because of a misunderstanding with a male passenger who did not speak English.