A JetBlue Pilot Accidentally Triggered a Hijacking Alert. Panic and Chaos Ensued

June 27, 2018, 10:57 AM UTC

A radio equipment problem on a JetBlue flight caused a security scare at JFK airport on Tuesday evening.

The flight, which was taxiing for departure to Los Angeles, became unresponsive to air traffic control shortly before takeoff. According to reports, the pilot accidentally entered a hijack alert in the plane’s transponder, which is used to indicate an emergency.

Armed police officers and FBI agents surrounded and boarded the plane to investigate, and found no security threat. Passengers were taken to a new plane after the law enforcement officers left.

Lenis Rodrigues, a spokeswoman for Port Authority, confirmed this to the New York Daily News, saying, “the aircraft was inspected and cleared with no security threat.”

“While communication was reestablished via alternate channels, authorities responded out of an abundance of caution,” JetBlue said in a statement. “The aircraft was cleared and returned to the gate for inspection.”

“JetBlue 1623, an Airbus A320, experienced a radio equipment problem while taxing for departure at John F. Kennedy International Airport tonight at 8 p.m.,” explained the FAA. “The crew requested to return to the ramp. The FAA will investigate.”