Hijack alert on Afghan airline triggered during ‘demonstration’ to junior, says pilot
The pilot of the Ariana Afghan Airline’s flight FG 312, who had sent a hijack alert on Saturday afternoon at the Delhi airport, has said that he had been told about a possible threat of hijack on Delhi-Kandahar route. In an internal report filed by the pilot to the airline, he has said that while briefing his first officer about the situation, the actual alert was generated by mistake.
The Ariana airlines has shared the report with HT. In the report the Captain has written, “While taxiing towards taxiway W for runway 28, i briefed my F/O (first officer) regarding hijacking since the Delhi staff informed us that there are hijacking plot for route Del Kbl (Delhi to Kabul). I put 7500 (emergency code for hijack situation) on transponder but not enter the button but unfortunately it triggered the code (sic).”
A senior officer from the Delhi ATC said, a “transponder code” is a silent alert which enables pilots to alert the ATC in case of a hijack situation, without letting the hijackers know.
Around 3.30 pm on Saturday, security officials at Delhi airport panicked after the pilot of the Kandahar-bound flight, which was parked on the tarmac, issued a hijack alert to the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.
The pilot later told officials he had pushed the aircraft’s panic button “by mistake”.
However, following the alert, security agencies said the aircraft was taken to a secluded bay and was scanned again. The flight, which had 123 passengers on board, took off for Afghanistan after a delay of over 90 minutes once it was established there was no threat.
HT had also earlier reported that frequency of air marshals in flights to Kabul and Kathmandu particularly from Delhi has been significantly increased.
This was done after the security forces and aviation agencies received an intimation of a possible hijack attempt of flights operating to these regions.
In India, sky marshals are commandos handpicked from the National Security Guard. They are deployed on flights in plainclothes. These men are specially trained to counter hijack and hostage situations, which may arise on board a flight. They identities are kept secret, officials said.
A senior officer associated with aviation security confirmed that the number and frequency of sky marshals in flights bound for Kabul in Afghanistan and Kathmandu in Nepal have been increased. Requesting not to be named, the officer said the measure has been taken as certain threats were recently flagged on these routes by intelligence agencies. It is not certain when this threat perception will be called off, he said.