A Newcastle-bound plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Gatwick after a passenger tried to open the doors of the aircraft while shouting, "It's OK, we are just on a flight simulator."

According to reports, the 22-year-old man had to be restrained by air hostesses and fellow passengers and was then tied down with eight seatbelts.

The Thomson Airways aircraft was at 36,000ft when the man, from Northumberland, tried to force open one of the emergency doors.

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The flight, which took off from Majorca, diverted to Gatwick so that the man could be arrested.

A 28-year-old passenger said: "It was absolutely mental.

"The plane started shaking. I thought it was going to go down. His friends tried to pull him away from the door and he started punching them and saying, 'It's OK, we are just on a flight simulator'."

The man was arrested by six police officers upon landing. He was questioned on suspicion of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

A spokeswoman for Thomson Airways said: "In accordance with our procedures, the local authorities were notified of this incident and the aircraft was met by the police upon landing at Gatwick where the passenger was removed from the flight."

She added: "We would like to reassure customers that it would not have been possible for this passenger to open the aircraft door whilst the aircraft was in the air. We would also like to reassure our customers that incidents of this type are extremely rare."