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British Airways Boeing 777 Evacuated Moments Before Takeoff in Bermuda After Authorities Receive Bomb Threat

British Airways Boeing 777 Evacuated Moments Before Takeoff in Bermuda After Authorities Receive Bomb Threat

a large airplane on a runway

Passengers on a packed British Airways Boeing 777-200 were evacuated onto the tarmac in Bermuda on Sunday night after local authorities received an emailed bomb threat against the plane just moments before the flight was set to depart.

British Airways flight BA158 was due to depart Bermuda L.F. Wade International Airport at 8:50 pm on Sunday night, and the pilots had already been given clearance to take off when they received an urgent radio call telling them to halt their departure.

In a recording of air traffic control communications between the plane and the airport control tower, ATC tells the pilots: “Speedbird 18B cancel takeoff clearance, cancel takeoff clearance… we have received some information regarding a bomb threat”.

Responding calmly, the pilot replies: “Okay, cancel takeoff clearance. Would you like us to leave the runway?”.

In further chatter between ATC and the plane, the control tower explains: “I was just on the phone with the airport duty office, and they reported they received an email saying there was a bomb onboard, and we are currently working on getting the authorities out and getting you to an isolated area to disembark possibly”.

Passengers were indeed evacuated off the aircraft via airstairs that were positioned at the forward left-hand door. Footage taken by a passenger on the flight suggests that British Airways what is known as a rapid disembarkation in which passengers are evacuated via airstairs rather than emergency slides but are ordered not to take any hand luggage with them.

The flight has now been delayed until Monday night.

In a statement, a spokesperson for British Airways told us: “The safety of our customers and colleagues is always our highest priority and we followed our standard procedures to disembark the aircraft.”

“Our teams are caring for our customers and supporting crew as we work to get them on their way as soon as possible.”

Local officials in Bermuda did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Matt’s take

The way in which airlines deal with bomb threats can vary massively from country to country. Airlines usually have their own internal security teams who will assess, in conjunction with the local authorities, whether a bomb threat is actually credible.

Bomb hoaxes aren’t all that uncommon, and in the vast majority of cases, passengers might not have any idea that their flight has had a bomb threat made against it.

When a bomb threat is deemed credible, however, an evacuation might be necessary. Some airlines will use emergency slides for this purpose, but others believe that evacuating via slides for a non-confirmed threat brings a risk of injury that is too high.

In this case, passengers evacuate either a jetty or airstairs as part of a ‘rapid disembarkation‘ whereby they must leave all of their hand luggage behind in order to avoid delaying the evacuation.

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