More details have emerged about a JetBlue flight that mistakenly sent out a hijack alert, triggering a scare at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday night.
The plane entered a hijack alert by mistake, sending the Port Authority Police Emergency Services on board the plane, the New York Daily News reported. The plane, slated to depart to Los Angeles at 7:30 p.m. ET, stopped responding to air traffic control before takeoff.
“There was a false alarm sent to tower as a result of a radio communications failure. Aircraft was inspected and cleared with no security threat,” the Port Authority said in a statement, according to ABC News.
JetBlue confirmed the incident in a statement on Tuesday. “While communication was reestablished via alternate channels, authorities responded in an abundance of caution,” the airline said. “The aircraft was cleared and returned to the gate for inspection.”
In radio transmissions between Port Authority officials, obtained by NBC New York, one person said, “Security issue, they have a radio malfunction. They can hear what’s going on but they cannot transmit at this time. Asking permission turn them back to the taxiway.”
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Police officers who were “heavily armed” boarded the plane to investigate the security incident, a passenger said.
Some people feared they were experiencing a terrorist attack. “People were, like, crying. Everyone’s texting their family, and we were on ground, so usually this would happen in the air if it was gonna happen,” Curtis told CBS Los Angeles. “People were ready to die.”
“My worst nightmare,” Curtis said “We noticed the SWAT vans and everything, but nobody was coming on the intercom and saying anything … I hate guns. They were pointing them, like, at us. It was traumatizing …”
The Federal Aviation Administration, in a statement, said that JetBlue Flight 1623, an Airbus A320, “experienced a radio problem while taxiing for departure.”
The FAA said that it will investigate the matter.
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