The knife-like object found Sunday night aboard a US Airways jet leaving Pittsburgh International Airport might have been a carpet-cutting tool, police said.
"It may have inadvertently been left behind by workers installing carpet in that plane," said Lt.
Beth Hoover of the Allegheny County police, based at the airport, on Monday. "The plane recently had carpet removed and reinstalled."
A passenger on Flight 1897 found the object under a seat in the Boeing 737 jet about 7 p.m. and reported it to the flight crew. The pilot declared the plane a "threatened aircraft" just after leaving gate B28.
The plane returned to the gate, and its 142 passengers were escorted off and rescreened. The plane was searched, and luggage was reinspected. Passengers continued to Charlotte, N.C., on another plane about 10 hours later.
The object was small and resembled a utility knife with a retractable blade, Hoover said. The passenger found it wedged in the carpeting between a seat and the plane's side.
US Airways spokesman Philip Gee said passengers and airline employees described the tool as more like a medical cutting utensil rather than a workman's tool.
"We've heard it only referred to by passengers and authorities as a scalpel," he said.
Gee confirmed the jet had carpeting installed Aug. 27.
The FBI and U.S. Air Marshals continued investigating yesterday.
"The investigation is ongoing, but it looks like it was mostly inadvertent," said FBI spokesman Bill Crowley. "It does not look like there was any sinister intent at this time."
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