Australian Passenger’s Bomb Threat Forces Emergency U-Turn for Scoot Flight TR16
One may think that military aircraft-escorted flights might be something exclusively reserved for renowned politicians and their VIPs.
However, passengers on Perth-bound Scoot Flight TR16 were surprised to spot two RSAF fighter jets accompanying their flight while the plane made an emergency U-turn back to Singapore.
As it turned out, the fighter jets were there for good reason.
These emergency measures were executed in response to an alleged bomb threat made by an Australian passenger onboard the flight. Once the plane landed safely back in Changi Airport, the 30 year-old Australian was promptly arrested by the authorities for engaging in criminal intimidation.
Scoot Flight TR16 Made A 7700 Squawk Before U-Turning Back to Singapore
On 12 October 2023, Scoot Flight TR16 left Changi Airport Terminal 1 at 4.11pm and was scheduled to arrive in Perth at 8.35pm the same day.
However, according to X (formerly Twitter) account SquawkAlert, the flight had made a 7700 squawk.
Essentially, a squawk refers to specific signals that are transmitted through the plane’s radio transponder, serving as communication between pilots and air traffic control personnel. In this case, squawk 7700 means that an emergency has been declared onboard the plane.
At 4.55pm, Singaporean authorities were alerted to the source of the emergency, which was the alleged bomb threat made by the 30-year-old Australian passenger.
About 30 minutes after the flight had taken off, the pilots were forced to make an emergency U-Turn back to Singapore’s Changi Airport.
As detailed in flight tracker Flightradar24, flight TR16 made the U-turn over Indonesia’s Bangka Island and flew in loops over the South China Sea for about 50 minutes before landing safely in Singapore.
According to the RSAF, two fighter jets were scrambled and tasked with escorting the plane back to Singapore.
Passengers On Board Initially Notified of “Minor Issues”, Snapped Photos of Two RSAF F-15SG Fighter Jets From Plane Window
For most of the flight, passengers remained blissfully unaware of the situation.
In one passenger’s interview with the Straits Times, passengers were informed at around 5.05pm that the flight was facing “minor issues”.
When the two fighter jets arrived to escort the plane, the passengers were understandably curious over the unusual sight. The interviewee recalled some passengers “passing phones to those seated by the windows to take photos” in usual kaypoh fashion, adding that he did not sense much alarm among those on board.
30-year-old Australian Arrested For Bomb Threat; Scoot Issues Apologies For the Delayed Flight
At 6.27pm, the Scoot flight landed safely in Singapore, with all 363 passengers, nine cabin crew members, and the two pilots returning safe and sound.
It was only then that the pilot announced that a bomb threat had occurred, believing the threat to be a hoax due to Singapore’s stringent security checks.
Police officers were reported to have boarded the plane to escort two individuals (who were most likely suspects) outside. It was later reported that a 30-year-old Australian had been arrested by the authorities for criminal intimidation, which may result in up to two years of imprisonment.
Another flight to Perth was quickly scheduled to happen later that night, with passengers getting refreshments before they disembarked the plane and hot meals before departing once again.
Scoot will continue to assist the authorities in the ongoing investigations, and has issued an apology to the passengers of the disrupted TR16 flight for the inconvenience caused.
Multiple Delays To Other Flights Occurred as a Runway Was Temporarily Closed
In response to the incident and to facilitate ground operations, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore declared that a runway was closed at Changi Airport at 6.26pm and reopened at 7.25pm. This resulted in eight arrival and six departure flights being delayed.
One notable passenger experiencing the delays was National Development Minister Desmond Lee, who was on a return flight from Kuala Lumpur. In a Facebook post, he apologised to residents in Boon Lay for being late for his Meet-the-People Session due to a two-hour delay.