UND says Saudi students behind flight diversion

Published 9:11 am Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The University of North Dakota says a mix-up involving three aviation students newly arrived from Saudi Arabia was to blame for a commuter jet being diverted to Fargo.

The Sunday flight from Minneapolis to Grand Forks landed in Fargo after a member of the flight crew mistakenly thought a passenger had tampered with a fire-detection device in the lavatory.

UND officials including one who was on the Pinnacle Airlines flight told the Grand Forks Herald that the Saudi students attracted attention both at the Minneapolis airport and onboard the plane.

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UND spokesman Peter Johnson says the students were perplexed by all the commotion. He says they plan to take English-as-a-second-language classes before beginning their pilot studies.