False Alarm Activated By Mistake... Or Equipment Failure?
A Delta Air Lines Flight enroute from New York to Tel Aviv
received an unexpected jet fighter escort Saturday.
The Associated Press said Israeli fighters were scrambled after
air traffic controllers detected a hijacking alert the pilots of
the airliner had activated by mistake.
The Delta pilots were unable to communicate directly with
controllers due to a technical problem, further raising ATC's
concern over the well-being of the flight.
Israeli Transportation Ministry spokesman Dani Shenar said that
two jet fighters were dispatched, and escorted the plane carrying
over 100 passengers to a safe landing at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion
Details of the exact circumstances of the situation were sketchy
at press time. Early reports seemingly indicated the pilots may
have squawked the wrong transponder code -- 7500 is hijacking,
7600 is lost comm. However, at least one Israeli media outlet
pointed a finger at a breakdown in the new "Code Positive" security
system, now in testing, which requires airliners bound for Israel
to establish secure communications before entering Israeli
"On Saturday one of this system's many potential failings was
seen," Boaz Hativa, chairmain of Israel's National Pilot
Association, told Haaretz.
The Israeli Transportation Ministry is investigating.