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An intruder at Heathrow Airport locked himself in the cockpit of a British Airways Boeing 747 Reuters

A Portuguese man has been charged after he allegedly broke through a security cordon at Heathrow and boarded an empty British Airways Aircraft, locking himself in the cockpit. Louis Pedro Verdasca dos Santos Costa was held in custody and charged with three offences, including unlawfully being on an aircraft. The 38-year-old is also accused of breaching security at the busiest airport in the UK on Saturday 5 March.

He was seen climbing into the cabin of an empty Boeing 747 aircraft and locking himself behind the high-security cockpit doors. Fire brigade officers had to break through the bomb and bulletproof doors to apprehend Costa. A source told Sky News: "It was a very difficult and complex situation and in the end the fire brigade had to be called to the plane and carried out a long and very protracted operation to get into the cockpit from outside.

"It is a terrifying situation when you think about it. Here is a man who not only has managed to go air-side at one of the world's busiest airports but he has successfully got to a Boeing 747 jet liner and found it open and was able to climb aboard. Then he has got onto the flight deck and barricaded himself in using the plane's own anti-terrorist equipment."

Police confirmed the incident at Heathrow on a stationary aircraft, but denied it was terror-related. In a statement a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "Louis Pedro Verdasca dos Santos Costa, 38, of Stonehill Road, Hounslow, west London was charged on Saturday, 5 March with two counts: of unlawfully being airside, and of unlawfully being on an aircraft.

"He has been remanded into custody at a west London police station and will appear at court at the earliest opportunity next week." It was understood that the detained man was a Portuguese national.