Passengers on board a Malaysia Airlines flight that was turned back after a passenger attempted to storm the cockpit and threatened to blow up the plane, say they were "sh***** themselves" while being forced to wait an agonising 90 minutes for armed guards to board the plane and take the man into custody.
Fellow passengers and flight attendants managed to overpower the man, a Sri-Lankan national living in Melbourne on a student visa, and restrain him with hogties while the plane was still in the air. People seated in the front rows were then forced to spend the rest of the flight back to Melbourne with the suspect lying next to their feet.
Former AFL player Andrew Leoncelli was one of several passengers who tackled the man, speaking to ABC radio he said they sat there for an "extremely long time".
"Everyone on the plane was highly agitated, not knowing what this thing was," he said.
Turns out the "thing" wasn't an explosive device, Victoria police not disclosing exactly what it was but confirmed it was an "electronic item, something that everyone would be carrying around with them on a daily basis".
As for the length of time it took police to apprehend the man, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has defended their actions while speaking to reporters.
"We had an adequate assessment for safety of the passengers, there wasn't really any delay that was unacceptable from our point of view," he said.
"With that focus on passenger safety being priority, I again stress all passengers were removed safely from the plane and the offender was extracted safely from the plane as well,"
"It was a successful outcome in that point of view and any delay we want to keep to a minimum, but that was the reason for the amount of time it took to get the passengers off the flight."
Police have also revealed the man, 25, had been released from a mental health hospital in Melbourne on Wednesday before buying a ticket on the flight. He's being assessed and is expected to face court later today where he will face serious offences under the Commonwealth Crimes Act.