Woman tried to open aircraft door—(BBC News)

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Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 12:51 UK

The incident happened on an Air France flight to Edinburgh

A suicidal passenger who tried to open an aeroplane door at 32,000ft could have caused a catastrophe, a court has heard.

Ann Gilmour, 47, was spotted and restrained by cabin crew on the Air France flight from Paris to Edinburgh.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court, she pled guilty to recklessly and negligently endangering an aircraft and the people on board.

Sentence was deferred for background reports.

The court heard the flight left Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on the morning of 7 January with about 100 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew on board.

Fiscal Depute Alasdair MacLeod, prosecuting, said: “About 11.30am the aircraft was travelling at approximately 32,000 ft and was midway into the journey between Paris and Edinburgh.

“At that time the cabin crew saw the accused standing near to the forward external door of the aircraft.”

Gilmour was staring at the door before she took hold of the door handle and turned it, Mr MacLeod said. She was pulled away by a female member of the cabin crew.

It would have been possible for her to open the door as it was not locked.

Mr MacLeod said a warning light had also appeared in the cockpit signalling that a door had been interfered with, and Captain Guillaume Charvieux contacted air traffic control when he heard what Gilmour had done.

She was put in a window seat away from the doors and was not allowed to leave her seat for the rest of the flight.

Similar incident

Gilmour, from Glasgow, was crying when arrested on arrival at Edinburgh Airport, and told police officers she wanted to open the door so she could jump out and kill herself, and didn’t care about the consequences for other passengers.

Mr MacLeod said Captain Charvieux believed the cabin would have “explosively depressurized”, causing a “catastrophe” as temperatures inside the cabin plunged to minus 50 degrees Celsius.

Gilmour suffers from borderline personality disorder and was on medication for depression and anxiety at the time of the incident, but psychiatrists said she was sane and fit to plead in court.

She has been remanded in custody at Cornton Vale and will be sentenced later this month.

Gilmour’s defence advocate Ronnie Renucci said a plane had landed safely after a similar incident in Canada last month, after a man opened a door and leapt out at 23,000 ft.

Sheriff Isabella McColl asked for more information about whether the plane would have stayed in the air had the door been opened.