(Left) Buses carry passengers from a Qatar Airways aircraft after a man (right) was escorted off the plane by police at Manchester airport on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Aug. 5: An RAF Typhoon fighter was scrambled to escort a passenger plane into Manchester Airport after the crew received a threat about a “device” on board.
In what turned out to be a suspected hoax, Greater Manchester Police launched a “full emergency” response as officers did not know “know how genuine this threat is”.
The plane involved was a Qatar Airways Airbus A330-300 with 282 people on board and the RAF plane was a Typhoon from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
Sources said the alert began when cabin crew on the jet were passed a note by a passenger. The note was passed to the captain, who alerted air traffic controllers and scrambled the quick reaction alert Typhoon jet.
Officers met the plane as it landed and police took a passenger off the plane. Matthew Qox tweeted a picture of a man apparently being escorted off the plane by armed officers.
Less than hour after the first reports, Greater Manchester Police confirmed the arrest was related to a suspected hoax.
Qox told the BBC: “Armed police came on and found a guy, searched him and made him stand up with his hands on his head and took him off the plane.
“He seemed no different to others on the plane, nothing unusual.”
Qox said he found out about the incident through Twitter. “I was asleep and had no idea that we were being followed by an RAF Typhoon. We stopped at the end of the runway and I found out what was going on by looking at Twitter,”, he said.
“I wish we could have been kept in the loop. At least it’s all a hoax, it could have been a lot worse.”
He added: “I’m a bit worried, nervous about the whole thing. I don’t feel too worried now I’m off the plane, it’s calmed me down I suppose.”
An RAF spokesman 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”.
Josh Hartley, a passenger on the plane, posted a series of pictures on Twitter showing the jet flying alongside the plane, before it touched down and passengers were escorted off. A spokesman for Qatar Airways said: “Qatar Airways can confirm that flight QR23 from Doha to Manchester, an Airbus A330-300, landed safely at Manchester Airport ahead of its scheduled arrival time of 13:15.