A United Airlines flight (illustrative)
A United Airlines flight (illustrative)iStock

London police arrested a 40-year-old man suspected of raping a woman on a flight from New Jersey to London last week.

According to the Independent, on January 31 authorities were alerted to an incident on an inbound flight around 6:30 a.m. local time, and met and boarded the aircraft as it arrived at Heathrow Airport.

The United Airlines flight was on its way from Newark, New Jersey, to London when the incident occurred in business class, the Independent said. The site added that both the man and woman were British, and the rape occurred while the other passengers were asleep.

The woman later reported the incident to cabin staff.

A source told The Sun, "Police took it very seriously and forensic officers carried out a thorough examination of the area of the plane where it was said to have happened. Officers went on board the plane and detained the man before taking him away."

The suspect has been released and is now "under investigation." He was not named.

A United Airlines spokesperson said the flight's crew notified local authorities "as soon as they became aware of these allegations."

"We will cooperate with law enforcement on any investigation," the spokesperson added.