Credits: DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI AGENCY
The accused, Justin Neil Frank, has been employed as a rig service electrician with Canrig Drilling Technology for more than a decade. Much of his work involves troubleshooting calls overseas.
Denny Smith, director of corporate development for the parent company, Nabors Industries in Houston, TX, said Frank was returning from a job overseas when the plane was diverted.
He said Frank is one of 8,000 employees who commute back and forth from Canada for overseas jobs.
"Obviously we are pretty shocked about this," said Smith, who wasn't sure where exactly Frank was working overseas. "It's certainly something we absolutely don't condone. It's very much contrary to every policy we have practically."
Since the matter is before the courts, Air Canada isn't commenting about what happened on the Monday afternoon flight that was destined for Calgary, or its policy when it comes to alcohol and passengers.
A passenger sitting behind the accused in business class said it appeared the man had a few drinks before he boarded the flight. She said he turned loud and obnoxious, and began making inappropriate comments when he began hitting on her about three hours into the eight-and-a-half hour journey.
Eventually, the man had to be subdued with plastic straps securing his legs and arms by crew members and passengers prior to making an unscheduled landing at 3:45 p.m. in Edmonton, where he was promptly taken off the plane and arrested by police.
Police believe he had smuggled alcohol onto the flight, which was carrying 349 passengers at the time.
Frank is charged with sexual assault, mischief to property and causing a disturbance by fighting and being drunk. He also faces two charges under the Canadian Aviation Act -- consuming liquor not served to him and failing to comply with crew member instructions. He is scheduled to appear in Leduc Provincial Court on Thursday.