Fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a Singapore Airlines flight from San Francisco early on Wednesday morning after a passenger assaulted a member of cabin crew and then claimed he had a bomb in his hand luggage onboard the aircraft.
Singapore’s Ministry of Defence said it immediately mobilised several F-16 fighter jets to intercept and escort Singapore Airlines flight SQ33 from SFO to SIN after it learnt of the threat, a spokesperson for the MOD said on Wednesday.
The Airbus A350-900 with 209 passengers and crew onboard landed safely at Singapore Changi Airport but was taken to a remote part of the airfield where teams from the army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Defence Group boarded the plane.
“The threat was subsequently verified to be false, and the suspicious person has been arrested. Police investigations are ongoing,” the Ministry of Defence said in a Facebook post.
The 37-year-old suspect was restrained by crew onboard the aircraft and he has been arrested for assaulting a crew member and for making false threats of terrorist acts.
The man has also been arrested on suspicion of consuming a controlled drug.
The aircraft landed at around 5:50 am, but passengers were not cleared to disembark the aircraft until around 9:20 am after police stood down their operation.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Singapore Airlines said the “unruly” passenger had struck one of its cabin crew.
‘Singapore Airlines apologises to all affected customers for the inconvenience caused by this incident. “We are assisting our customers with the rebooking for any onward connections that they may have missed,” a spokesperson commented.
”We are assisting the authorities with their investigations and regret that we are unable to provide further details,” a statement from the airline continued.
The flight from San Francisco to Singapore is one of the longest in the world, clocking in at 8,446 miles. The average flight time is around 15 and a half hours but it can take more than 16 hours when the winds are unfavourable.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.