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Pilot Makes Two False Hijack Calls

The pilot of a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane mistakenly made two false hijack distress calls.

On Tuesday morning, a pilot on Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight SV872 from Jiddah to Manila accidentally pressed a hijack warning button and then verbally confirmed a hijack emergency when the plane was about 20 miles outside the Manila airport.

As a result, officials in Manila had a team of commandos isolate the plane when it landed—and then the pilot told the control tower that the button alert was just accidental. The airport, though, followed protocol for emergency situations anyway.

“We can never play around with safety and security,” airport manager Eddie Monreal told the Assocaited Press. “We decided that we will not take that call hook, line and sinker saying that it was a mistake.”

Passengers were kept on the plane for about two hours during the ordeal with no way to know what was going on except for reports from family and friends by cellphone that the plane had been hijacked. One passenger, Princess Habiba Sarip-Paudac, said that while things were normal in the cabin, it quickly began to feel like a real hijacking, with passengers expecting to be pummeled with tear gas.

“Not even one crew explained,” Paudac told reporters on the scene. “For two hours, they were saying, ‘Sorry ma’am, we don’t know anything, we don’t know what to say.'”

An investigation into the incident is currently underway.

“Appropriate penalties and sanctions will be imposed on the erring pilot if the result is indeed a human error,” the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said in a statement.


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