Pilot triggers false hijack alarm
A PILOT of a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight accidentally pressed a hijack alarm and triggered a major security response at Manila airport yesterday, authorities said.
Police isolated and surrounded the Saudia flight after it landed just after one of its pilots issued a distress signal indicating a hijack was underway, the Philippine aviation authority said in a statement.
Hundreds of passengers aboard the Boeing 777 flight from the Red Sea city of Jeddah were forced to remain on the plane for more than two hours, but were allowed to disembark about 5pm after it was confirmed there was no threat.
Soon after the distress signal was activated, authorities at Manila control tower obtained a verbal confirmation from the pilot that he had triggered it although he did not say why at the time, Manila airport aviation security chief Mao Aplasca told reporters.
“It was only after the plane was parked for some time that he said it was a false alarm,” Aplasca added.
In Saudi Arabia, an airline spokesperson also told AFP there was no security threat.
“False alarm for hijack for Flight 872,” the spokesperson said.
The Philippines’ aviation authority said in a statement the distress signal pressed by the pilot alerted authorities “that a hijacking incident is on progress on board”.
“Immediately the flight was given priority landing by airport authorities … and was directed to park on the remote bay and isolated for security procedures,” the statement said.
“Apparently the pilot committed an error activating the 7500 squawking signal,” the statement said, referring to the hijack alarm.
It said an investigation would still be needed to confirm why the distress signal was pressed.
“Appropriate penalties and sanctions will be imposed on the erring pilot if the result is indeed a human error,” it said. –