Miscommunication blamed in Dutch hijacking scare
A Vueling plane is parked at a remote corner of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, Netherlands, about two kilometers from the main terminal, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP / Cris Toala Olivares)
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2012 8:45AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 29, 2012 12:43PM EDT
Two Dutch F-16 fighter jets were scrambled Wednesday, after a passenger plane headed for Amsterdam's Schiphol airport failed to establish communications with air traffic controllers.
The fighters escorted the flight to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, where it taxied to a remote corner and was met by security personnel and other emergency responders.
Dutch media had initially reported a hijacking aboard Veuling flight VY8366, before the Spanish discount airline set the record straight.
"Amsterdam's protocol for security was activated owing to a temporary loss of communication between the plane and air traffic control," Vueling said in a Spanish-language tweet posted shortly after news of the fighter jet escort spread.
In its own statement, the Dutch Defence Ministry clarified that F16s are sent to escort planes whenever they enter the Netherlands airspace without contacting ground control, in order to establish visual contact with the flight crew.
The flight had been scheduled to fly to Amsterdam from Malaga, Spain.
Another of the airline's planes flying the same route last year experienced a similar problem, according to a Vueling spokesperson who told The Associated Press communication issues over France prompted the scrambling of a military escort there too.
That flight was ultimately allowed to continue and land as planned.
The latest incident came hours after part of the Schiphol Airport was evacuated following the discovery of a suspected Second World War bomb buried near the main terminal.
Pier C was evacuated and closed to arriving and departing flights after military ordnance disposal experts were called in to investigate the 500-kilogram device found by workers who had been digging in the area.
The bomb was successfully removed several hours later.