Pilot accidentally triggers hijack alarm, causes major security incident

Why it matters: Anyone can make a mistake at work, but the consequences can be a lot more severe in some professions. Just ask the airline pilot who accidentally set off a hijack alarm, causing a major security situation at one of Europe’s busiest airports.

The incident took place at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport earlier this week. Reports say an Air Europa pilot on a plane bound for Madrid triggered the hijack alarm just before take-off.

The aircraft was evacuated, and the airport’s military police tweeted that they were responding to a “suspicious situation.” The BBC reports that parts of Schiphol’s D-pier were cordoned off to the public, and while flights still landed at other parts of the airport, some were grounded for around 60 minutes.

About an hour after police responded to the alert, Air Europa tweeted: “False alarm. In the flight Amsterdam-Madrid this afternoon was activated, by mistake, a warning that triggers protocols on hijackings at the airport.”

“Nothing has happened, all passengers are safe and sound waiting to fly soon. We deeply apologise.”

The incident was originally described as being a GRIP-3 situation, which means an event with potentially serious consequences for those in the vicinity.

Exactly how the alert was triggered is still unclear. According to FAA documents, pilots can use a special transponder beacon code, typing 7500, to raise an alert for unlawful interference in the case of a hijacking, so it could be the case that the entire situation was the result of a typo.

Image credit: hxdyl via Shutterstock

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