A Pilot’s spilled coffee accidentally triggered a hijacking alert and caused a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany, to make an unscheduled stop in Canada.
A Transport Canada report said United Flight 940 was diverted to Toronto and landed safely at Pearson International Airport. The coffee sent out distress signals including code 7500, which means hijacking or unlawful interference.
The report says Canada’s defense department was notified, but that with the help of United dispatch staff the flight crew confirmed it to be a communication issue and not a hijacking.
A Transport Canada report said the US Federal Aviation Administration indicated the pilot “had inadvertently squawked a 7500 code after spilling coffee on the aircraft’s radio equipment, which interfered with the communications equipment”.
United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson had said on Tuesday that the pilot elected to divert the flight rather than cross the Atlantic Ocean while experiencing a communications problem. United did not immediately return a call to comment on the reported coffee mishap.
The Boeing 777 was carrying 241 passengers and 14 crew members. Johnson said United flew them back to Chicago on another plane and put them up in hotel rooms overnight. They were scheduled to resume their flight to Germany on Tuesday.
And even more hijack horseplay as passengers aboard a Turkish Airlines flight from Oslo overpowered a would-be hijacker as the plane landed at Istanbul airport yesterday.
Police said the man was a Turk who had demanded that the plane return to Norway. His motive was unclear. According to the Turkish Dogan news agency, he tried to force his way into the cockpit of the plane saying: “I have a bomb.”
The pilot notified emergency services at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. Passengers were quickly taken off after landing and the man was arrested and the bomb found to be a fake.
“I was sitting at the front end of the plane and I heard voices at the back of the plane around 30 minutes before we landed,” said Lelya Kilic, one of the 59 passengers aboard flight TK1754 from Oslo.
“I saw a fight between passengers and a man with a mask, carrying a device that looked like a radio handset.”
Police said a passenger had been sitting on top of the hijacker when they entered the plane, a Dogan journalist said. Police identified the hijacker as Cuma Yasar.
Private Norwegian television network TV2 quoted witness Salim Tahar as saying someone in the back of the plane had put on a mask and threatened to blow up the plane in the air.
“The man spoke Turkish and demanded the plane return to Oslo,” Tahar said.
Tahar told TV2 by telephone from Turkey that the man appeared to be holding something but it was not clear what. He said the crew moved the other passengers to the front of the plane, while the would-be hijacker remained at the back.
There were no reports of anyone being hurt in the incident.
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