Police at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport stormed a JetBlue flight Tuesday after a radio glitch caused the plane to send out a false hijack alert.
At about 8 p.m., JetBlue Flight 1623 lost contact with air traffic control as it was on the runway, about to take off for Los Angeles. The Airbus A321 sent out a code used to indicate that a hijacker or security threat is onboard the aircraft. After air traffic controllers couldn’t reach the cockpit, police swarmed around the aircraft on the runway.
A SWAT team stormed the plane and “told us to pull our phones away and leave (our) hands up,” a passenger told CNN.
At one point, the pilot wrote his cell phone number on a sheet of paper and stuck it against the windshield so police could make contact, the New York Daily News reported. A JetBlue spokesperson said that “while communication was reestablished via alternate channels, authorities responded out of an abundance of caution.”
Police inspected the aircraft and determined that there was no emergency, however the plane still returned to the gate. Passengers boarded a new aircraft and left about four hours after the original scheduled departure.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the airline are investigating the incident.