Ohio Man Sentenced to 30 Months for Airplane Disturbance, Prompting Emergency Landing in Atlanta

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William Allen Liebisch, 43, of Cincinnati, Ohio, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for interfering with the performance of the duties of a flight crew. Liebisch’s actions led to an emergency landing in Atlanta after he carried a box cutter onto a Frontier Airlines flight bound for Tampa, Florida, and made threatening remarks to a fellow passenger.

Liebisch’s conduct prompted panic among the flight crew and passengers, necessitating swift action to maintain safety onboard. “The flying public deserves to travel in peace without fear that a fellow passenger will create a violent disturbance,” stated U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.

“We would like to thank the passengers who took action to prevent the violence Liebisch threatened in the air,” said FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley. “No one should face harm while flying.”

Joseph Harris, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Southern Region, emphasized the importance of ensuring safety aboard commercial flights, noting that unruly passengers disrupting airline operations will be held accountable.

Liebisch was found to have inserted a spare blade into the box cutter he brought onboard, despite TSA officers confiscating the device before departure. His threatening behavior prompted an emergency landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where he was subsequently apprehended by Atlanta Police Department officers.

Liebisch pleaded guilty to the charge on December 14, 2023, and has been sentenced to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Transportation.