RAF Typhoon fighters scrambled to escort passenger jet, originally bound for New York
A passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing in Scotland yesterday after a written note was found on board threatening to set the plane on fire.
RAF Typhoon fighters were scrambled to escort an Egyptair flight from Cairo to New York as it diverted to Glasgow Prestwick airport following the discovery of the note in the toilet. After landing, the Boeing 777 was isolated on the tarmac away from passenger terminals and surrounded by police. Egyptair later confirmed a technical team including bomb disposal experts were checking the aircraft. A police spokesman said that all 326 people on board would be questioned.
The emergency began after BBC New York producer Nada Tawfik, one of the passengers flying to JFK, alerted crew to the note she had found in the cabin toilet which said: “I’ll set this plane on fire.” Speaking from the plane yesterday, Ms Tawfik said: “When I went in to change my daughter about three hours into the flight, I found a note by the sink saying ‘I’ll set this plane on fire’ with the seat number 46D written on it. So I immediately went to the crew and told them about it. It was on a hand napkin written in pencil and the pencil was actually still there, so I told the crew to make sure to keep it so they can get any fingerprints off it. They locked the bathroom immediately so that no one could go into it.
“It almost looked like a child’s handwriting or someone who has very sloppy handwriting, but it was very alarming, especially these days when everyone is so concerned about safety on flights. I said to one of the stewardesses, ‘I don’t know if this is a prank’, they said no, it can’t be a prank. Either someone has a very bad sense of humour or, you know, it’s very scary.”
A spokesman for the Ayrshire airport said yesterday it was dealing with an “ongoing incident”, although no other flights were disrupted.
A Scottish police spokesman said: “At around 1420 hours today an Egyptair aircraft flying from Cairo to New York was diverted to Prestwick airport after a suspicious note was discovered on the aircraft. There are no reports of anyone injured. All passengers will be interviewed by police.”
In a similar incident last month, RAF Tycoon jets were scrambled when a Pakistan International Airlines flight was diverted to Stansted on its journey from Lahore to Manchester. The emergency landing came after air traffic control reported a dispute on board the aircraft. It was alleged that a passenger had threatened to blow up the plane amid reports of an on-board dispute with cabin staff. Two men were later charged with endangering an aircraft.