- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2004

BRUSSELS (AP) — A Belgian airliner made an emergency landing after an agitated passenger — a cat — got into the cockpit and attacked the co-pilot, the airline said yesterday.

The SN Brussels flight from the Belgian capital to Vienna, Austria, had been in the air about 20 minutes Monday, when “it was noticed” that a passenger’s pet had escaped from its cage, “although it is not yet clear how,” an airline statement said.

“Once free, the animal proceeded to wander around the cabin,” slipping into the cockpit when meals were being delivered to the two-man flight crew, it said.

“At this stage, the animal became agitated and nervous,” it said.

An airline spokeswoman said the cat scratched the co-pilot’s arm.

Witnesses gave different versions about how the cat became so aggressive. One said the cat had been kicked by a passenger in the front row, Kyodo News reported.

The pilot returned to Brussels as a precaution, and the 58 passengers departed on another flight two hours later.

The cat had been checked in Oslo in an internationally approved “flight transport bag,” but the airline said it may change its procedures for pets in the cabin once it concludes its investigation.

“At no time throughout the incident was the passengers’ security affected in any way,” it said.

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