24 May 2013

Two arrested after RAF diverts Pakistan plane to Stansted

Two men are arrested after a plane from Pakistan carrying 297 passengers is intercepted and diverted to Stansted Airport by RAF typhoon jets.

RAF typhoon jets were launched at 1.20pm after an incident on board the Pakistani passenger aircraft, PK709, and the plane was diverted south to Essex.

The two men aged 30 and 41 are British nationals, and were arrested by police on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft.

Superintendent Darrin Tomkins, of Essex Police said that the incident was being treated as a criminal, rather than terror-related matter.

There have been unconfirmed reports from one passenger that two male passengers tried to enter the cockpit, and another allegation that two men threatened to blow up the plane, and later said they were joking.

The aircraft was a Pakistan International Airlines passenger plane carrying 297 passengers which was flying from Lahore to Manchester.

The plane was landed at Stansted Airport in Essex at 2.15pm in an isolated stand, away from passenger areas. The Essex airport is the UK’s anti-terrorism base, where planes can be safely isolated.

None of the passengers were injured, and were taken to the airport terminal under police escort for debriefing.

Friday’s flight had left Lahore at 9.35am local time and was due to land in Manchester at 2pm.

Superintendent Tomkins said: “The plane will remain at its current location and will be subject to forensic examination by specialist officers.

“At this point in time no suspicious items have been recovered. This incident is being treated as a criminal offence and remains under the direction of Essex Police.”

An RAF fighter jet intercepts a Pakistan International Airlines plane and escorts it to Stansted Airport, the MoD confirms.

Picture: from Flight Radar

30 minutes’ notice

The incident is understood to have happened around 10 minutes before the plane, flight number PK709, was due to land in Manchester at 2pm. Airport staff were given 20 to 30 minutes notice before the landing, Channel 4 News understands.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said: “A typhoon aircraft has been launched to investigate an incident involving a civilian aircraft within UK airspace.”

He said that the typhoon is from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

An Essex police spokeswoman said: “An incident has occurred on an aircraft. Police and partners are responding.”

The very same plane on the very same flight – from Lahore to Manchester – had been diverted to Stansted on 7 September 2011 due to a bomb scare.

An MoD spokesman told Channel 4 News that the incident was now a matter for police.

Typhoon jets can be scrambled after the pilot or crew of a passenger aircraft sends out an emergency signal for help.

Heathrow engine fire

In a separate incident at Heathrow Airport, a BA762 plane was forced to make an emergency landing after an engine fire. Crew and 75 passengers had to ecavuated, amid speculation that the aircraft had run into a flock of birds.

And while Stansted Airport said that it was operating as normal after the emergency flight diversion from Pakistan, passengers at Heathrow have been told to expect delays. The airport’s runways were closed and a full investigation was launched.

Pakistan jet diverted to Stansted by RAF - Mod