JetBlue Aircraft accidentally declared a Hijacking.
JetBlue flight Flight 1623, heading to Los Angeles, has radio trouble on taxi and tried to alert ATC with the Transponder code 7600 which is internationally recognised as the code for Communication failure. The pilot accidentally keyed in Transponder code 7500 which is the signal for a hijacked aircraft.
Without verbal contact with Flight 1623 and the manually entered code for a hijacking, authorities at JFK had no choice but to assume the worst.
Port authorities soon descended on the aircraft fearing a hijack situation “That brought everyone and their mother out to the tarmac,” a law enforcement source said. “Most people (cops and firefighters on the scene) have never responded to a hijacking, other than in training.”
This incident caused a huge knock on effect of delays as emergency services attended the aircraft.
“The aircraft was inspected and cleared with no security threat,” Port Authority spokeswoman Lenis Rodrigues said.
Flight 1623, with 158 people on board, was scheduled to depart JFK at 7:30 p.m. and land at 10:52 p.m. at LAX. It finally took off at 11:23 p.m. and was expected to touch down at 2:28 a.m. in Los Angeles.
“While communication was reestablished via alternate channels, authorities responded in an abundance of caution. The aircraft was cleared and returned to the gate for inspection.”
Passenger Tony Schwartz tweeted: “I am on a JetBlue flight at JFK that lost its communications. Created a security crisis. 10 heavily armed cops boarded plane and just left. After 1.5 hours on runway being towed back to gate. Wow.”