Hand treatment grounds hero pilot

Last updated 09:35 30/03/2008

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One of the pilots caught in an alleged plane hijacking is back flying, but his injured captain is unsure when he will return to work.

The captain is undergoing rehabilitation for serious knife wounds to his hands. They required surgery after the February 8 flight from Christchurch to Blenheim.

The pilots grappled with Somali refugee Asha Ali Abdille, 33, who is charged with stabbing three people and with attempting to seize control of the aircraft by force.

The captain, who cannot be named because of a court suppression order, said the flight played on his mind "a little bit".

"It's more what's happened since then with all the media interest and the ACC and ongoing stuff. I'm not really sure at this stage when I will go back to work, it's going to be another wee while yet."

His co-pilot had returned to work and they had talked about the incident over a beer.

The pilots work for Air National, which was contracted to Air New Zealand for the flight.

The pilot could not provide specific details about the incident because of the police investigation, but was grateful for the support he had received.

"I got a couple of cards from the passengers.

"Air New Zealand, Air National and the pilots' union has been fantastic," he said.

The co-pilot could not be reached for comment.

A psychiatric report has already been prepared on Abdille and she was last week remanded in custody until April 16 while her defence counsel gets a second opinion on its findings. She has entered no pleas.

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- Sunday Star Times

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