A Saudi Arabian Airlines flight was temporarily isolated in Manila on Tuesday morning after one of the plane’s pilots mistakenly pressed a hijack-warning button not once, but twice.
The incident prompted Philippine officials to mount a security response and isolate the Boeing 777 until an all-clear could be given.
The Associated Press has the full report, writing:
“Manila airport manager Eddie Monreal said Flight SV872 from Jiddah made the distress call about 20 miles from the airport. Airport authorities asked for a verification of the emergency message and the flight crew confirmed the distress call, he said. It was not immediately clear how the confirmation was made, but internationally known emergency codes were used by both the flight crew and control tower, Monreal said.”
“However, the captain later told the control tower that a button indicating a hijacking was in progress had been pushed accidentally. Despite the assurance, airport authorities quickly convened a crisis committee, Monreal said.”
Authorities kept passengers inside of the aircraft after landing while security teams inspected the plane and what was going on inside, according to UPI. Passengers were eventually allowed off the plane.
"We can never play around with safety and security," Monreal tells AP. "We decided that we will not take that call hook, line and sinker saying that it was a mistake."
Passengers on the flight tell the news agency that the mood onboard during the isolation had been normal until some on the flight were informed by relatives via cellphone that their plane was the subject of a hijacking scare.
The flight was carrying 410 passengers and 21 crew, according to AP. Saudi Arabian is also known as the airline “Saudia.”
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it is investigating the cause, adding in a statement that “appropriate penalties and sanctions will be imposed on the erring pilot if the result is indeed a human error.”