Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Man arrested over 'hoax bomb threat' on board Qatar Airways plane escorted into Manchester Airport

An image posted on Twitter showing a passenger being escorted off the Qatar Airways flight which was diverted to Manchester Airport. Pic @MattPeterC
An image posted on Twitter showing a passenger being escorted off the Qatar Airways flight which was diverted to Manchester Airport. Pic @MattPeterC
A photograph of the Qatar airways flight and RAF Typhoon jet. Pic Twitter
A photograph of the Qatar airways flight and RAF Typhoon jet. Pic Twitter
An image posted on Twitter by Josh Hartley - taken from the Qatar aircraft of the Typhoon jet
An image posted on Twitter by Josh Hartley - taken from the Qatar aircraft of the Typhoon jet

A passenger has been arrested on suspicion of a hoax bomb threat after being taken off a flight which was escorted into Manchester Airport by the RAF "as a result of information received by the pilot about a possible device on board".

Greater Manchester Police said the RAF involvement came "as a result of information received by the pilot about a possible device on board".

The alert began as the jet, a Qatar Airbus A330, was approaching the airport.

After the plane landed safely, Greater Manchester Police said: "A passenger has been taken off the plane by officers at Manchester Airport. We will work to get others off as swiftly and safely as possible."

The drama started at around 1.30pm with GMP confirming that the A330 had been escorted into Manchester by the RAF "as a result of information received by the pilot about a possible device on board".

The aircraft has since landed, with armed police taking one man off the plane.

A passenger on the plane said he watched as armed police officers escorted the passenger off.

Josh Hartley, who boarded the plane at Doha in Qatar, said passengers remain on the plane, with some feeling "shaken up".

He told BBC: "The flight was pretty calm all the way through, but some people are shaken up, quite a few. It was scary.

"One guy has been escorted off the plane already but we're still on it. We've heard nothing yet.

"We've had no information all the way through this."

Speaking of the moment he became aware of the RAF Typhoon following the plane, he said: "I thought it was just a one off thing, then I realised it had stayed for four or five minutes.

"I was thinking of the possibilities."

Twitter user Josh Hartley who is on board the Qatar flight has been tweeting since the emergency began
Twitter user Josh Hartley who is on board the Qatar flight has been tweeting since the emergency began

A Manchester Airport spokesman said flights has been suspended for around 25 minutes but that normal services had resumed at around 2pm.

"There may be some delays but we are anticipating too many problems," he added.

Witness Paul Bell, who was on his way to the airport in a taxi, told Sky News that he saw the RAF Typhoon meet the passenger plane.

He said: "We heard the fighter jet circling over Stockport, and literally 10 minutes later we saw the plane coming in being followed by it.

"We saw the (RAF Typhoon) coming in, literally flying around the aeroplane.

"It then pinged up on the sat nav that the airport is on lock-down.

"There are lots of people hanging around, checking their phones. We're stuck in a massive traffic jam. There are no planes landing or taking off."

Authorities had been following "standard procedures" in dealing with a possible threat, said David Kaminski-Morrow, the air transport editor of Flightglobal publication.

He said: "In situations like these, the plan is always to get the aircraft down at the nearest available landing site. It could be that a threat could have been phoned in and passed on to the captain. It could be that someone on board has spotted something.

"In any event, no one wants to take any chances."

An RAF spokesman said later that the plane had landed safely and the incident was being handled by civilian authorities.

He said: "We can confirm that Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby in their quick reaction alert role this afternoon to investigate a civilian aircraft whose pilot had requested assistance.

"The aircraft was escorted to Manchester where it landed safely. This incident is now being handled by the civilian authorities."

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