Entries in Delta Airlines (4)


How the Delta 'Air Scare' Happened

Delta Airlines(NEW YORK) -- Thursday night's terror scare on a Delta Airlines flight from New York to Madrid began when an air marshal became suspicious of a passenger of Pakistani descent who had just left a lavatory, and ended with a heavily armed SWAT team storming the plane, only to find no terrorist and no bomb.

It was another false alarm in the air that had some in law enforcement questioning the judgment of federal air marshals. And over the next two weeks, prior to and during the London Olympics, there will be teams of marshals on virtually every U.S. carrier flight into or out of the major cities of Europe and the Middle East.

"I think reasonableness did not prevail on this flight," said ABC News consultant Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent, "and crying wolf too many times will then not help you when you have a real crisis."

Delta Flight 126, which left JFK airport at 8 p.m., was about 45 minutes into its trip when a federal air marshal saw a Pakistani-American man exit a lavatory. Inside the lavatory, the air marshal found two short pieces of wire with their ends tripped off, covered by a piece of dark straw. The marshal concluded, wrongly, that that they could be components for a bomb.

At the same time, a female passenger from Argentina began to have breathing difficulties, and other air marshals thought, again wrongly, that she could be a decoy, meant to distract the crew while someone else assembled a bomb.

The plane turned back toward JFK, first telling passengers there were mechanical difficulties but then admitting there was a "security" issue. After an emergency landing, the Delta jet was directed toward an isolated area. Passengers looked out their windows and saw firetrucks, security trucks and personnel in HAZMAT suits.

The pilot told air traffic control, "There may be actually a real team on board and we'd like to get security on the airplane as soon as we can."

He also explained how the Argentine woman could be a member of the "terror team," saying, "She's the one that is supposed to be the decoy that keeps looking at the gentleman that was playing the possible explosive device in the lavatory."

The SWAT team stormed the plane, finding nothing. The 277 passengers who had been evacuated from the aircraft were finally allowed to proceed to Madrid just before 4 a.m., nearly eight hours behind schedule.

Said passenger Dayna Kurtz, who was heading to Spain to perform with her band, "The scariest thing was landing and seeing all of the emergency people. Our first thought was, 'Wow, this could be a really big deal.'" She said the greatest hardship turned out to be waiting "about four hours" for access to a restroom.

Though in the end there was no real threat, federal air marshals are trained to react precisely as they did Thursday night.

They are trained to look for teams of terrorists and decoys, and told that terrorists may sneak bomb component parts on board to be assembled in washrooms.

They are also trained to shoot to kill, in the head, to prevent someone from detonating a bomb.

In a statement, Delta said the flight had been returned to JFK "due to the discovery of a suspicious item on board. As a precautionary measure, the plane taxied to a remote location where passengers were escorted off the plane. The aircraft was searched with negative results."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Solar Storm Causes Flights to be Rerouted

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A geomagnetic storm caused Delta Airlines to reroute a handful of flights that were scheduled to fly over the North Pole Tuesday.

A Delta spokesman said the flights were shifted to fly further south in an effort to ensure consistent communications. The affected routes were between Detroit and the Asian cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Inchon. United had to reroute one flight Monday and American reported no impact, but said the airline continues to monitor the situation.

The FAA said it was keeping close watch on the situation Tuesday but did not issue an alert.

“The FAA is closely monitoring the current solar storm and the potential for more storms over the next few days, and will issue a Solar Radiation Alert if necessary. So far, radiation dose rates have not been high enough to trigger an alert,” the agency said in a statement.

NASA said the six astronauts on the international space station are safe and won’t need to shelter in place to ride out the storm.

Even though this is the strongest geomagnetic storm Earth has experienced in six years, the radiation has caused only minor problems.

“Operators are surely seeing a greater number of errors on their system that are causing them to work a bit harder, but we’re not expecting satellites to stop,” Douglas Biesecker, a physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told ABC News.

Sky watchers in northern states may be able to see fairly vivid aurora displays Tuesday night that resemble filmy white sheets shooting around the sky.

The storm was set off by a chain of events Sunday evening. A moderate solar flare erupted on the sun, which occurs tens of thousands of times every solar cycle, Biesecker said. The solar flare was associated with a coronal mass ejection, which is also a frequent occurrence. However, this particular one was big and sent a cloud of plasma with a magnetic field hurtling toward Earth at 4 million mph.

Earth experienced some of the radiation within an hour of Sunday’s solar flare.

“The ones that escape propogate to Earth at the speed of light,” Biesecker said.

The geomagnetic storm is expected to last for one day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State Department Authorizes Departure of US Citizens from Egypt

Photo Courtesy - MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of State announced Sunday that it expects to evacuate 600 non-essential embassy officials and their family members from Egypt amid the violence and protests that have taken over the country for nearly a week.

The State Department says there are currently 380 officials working in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and 760 family members there, as well. Flights are expected to begin Monday, with 1-2 leaving the country per day, headed to Europe. The exact destination of those flights has not yet been disclosed.

While the State Department has not provided figures on how many non-diplomatic U.S. citizens plan to evacuate Egypt, it does show that nearly 50,000 American citizens are registered with the U.S. Embassy as being in Egypt.

On Sunday, the State Department also issued an advisory to travelers to leave Egypt as soon as possible. Many airlines have suspended flights to Cairo for the near future.

U.S. citizens in Egypt who require assistance, or those who are concerned that a loved one may require assistance, should contact the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo at, or at 1-202-501-4444.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mumbai: Another Cargo Hold Scare?

Photo Courtesy - Delta Airlines(MUMBAI, India) -- A Delta Airlines flight made an emergency landing Thursday in Mumbai after unidentified objects were found in the aircraft's cargo hold, reports NDTV.

244 passengers were aboard the flight en route from Amsterdam to Mumbai when it landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and were immediately evacuated before a bomb squad began a search of the plane and its cargo hold.

An airline source said that the flight did not declare an emergency but rather it was air traffic control acting on information given by Delta.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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