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View Full Version : BA Flight turned back to UK from JFK


Jamie-Southend
13th Aug 2006, 23:05
Does anyone have any further details on the flight yet? Just been announced on BBC News 24 that a JFK flight has been turned around due to a Pax using a mobile phone?

PAXboy
13th Aug 2006, 23:37
Not using a phone - simply a phone ringing and no one wanted to own up. It was implied that the phone was in the cabin but may well have been in the hold. If so then it would the problem already anticipated elsewhere in the forums - that people will forget to turn off the phone before shoving it in the hold bag.

BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4789169.stm) has the story.
A British Airways flight from Heathrow to New York has been turned back after a mobile phone was heard ringing at the back of the plane. No-one on board the plane admitted owning the phone, banned under current security restrictions, so flight BA179 returned to the London airport.

The scare came as the Department for Transport downgraded the UK terror threat from critical to severe.

tiggerific_69
13th Aug 2006, 23:47
the subject of this thread was slightly unclear - was it coming from Heathrow or From JFK and returning to which airport,as it would seem pointless returning to the UK if it had come from JFK :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Sky News confirming it was BA179 LHR-JFK,returned to LHR and all passengers to be searched before being allowed to re-board the aircraft.

apaddyinuk
13th Aug 2006, 23:51
Hehehe...I was meant to operate on that flight! THANK GOD MY PREVIOUS DUTY WAS MESSED UP!

Ron & Edna Johns
14th Aug 2006, 03:32
The only time MY phone has rung when onboard (and when I've forgetten to turn the thing off :O ) is when I've been taxiing out or taxiing in. "Mid-flight"? Never. So, if this one did start ringing at that point of the flight my ears would prick up. Where would a calling signal be coming from?

As for hearing a phone in the hold, not bloody likely.....

Sounds like another story where there's more to it, OR has been distorted by the media, just for something completely different.

Hold West
14th Aug 2006, 03:50
The only time MY phone has rung when onboard (and when I've forgetten to turn the thing off :O ) is when I've been taxiing out or taxiing in. "Mid-flight"? Never. So, if this one did start ringing at that point of the flight my ears would prick up. Where would a calling signal be coming from?

As for hearing a phone in the hold, not bloody likely.....

Sounds like another story where there's more to it, OR has been distorted by the media, just for something completely different.

All cell phones I have ever used have an alarm function. My daughter's phone goes off every day at 17:00 to remind her to take a medication. If you don't know what mp3 she has set up for the alarm or an incoming call, you'd never know the difference. I'd guess it was an alarm on the cell phone in question.

chandlers dad
14th Aug 2006, 04:22
The only time MY phone has rung when onboard (and when I've forgetten to turn the thing off :O ) is when I've been taxiing out or taxiing in. "Mid-flight"? Never. So, if this one did start ringing at that point of the flight my ears would prick up. Where would a calling signal be coming from?
As for hearing a phone in the hold, not bloody likely.....
Sounds like another story where there's more to it, OR has been distorted by the media, just for something completely different.

Depends on the altitude. Blackberries and phones can recieve signals once the plane is up in the air. Berries at a higher altitude but both will work.

Ron & Edna Johns
14th Aug 2006, 05:57
All good points. I guess I'm just half deaf or no body rings me when I'm working.... Of interest, just how high up can Blackberries receive? Any one know?

bacardi walla
14th Aug 2006, 07:21
If it was in the hold, nobody would hear it (apart from maybe AVI) :ok:

LD Max
14th Aug 2006, 08:58
I was interested to note from the News 24 (TV) reports that the Captain had turned back after assessing the situation with airline security staff. Apparently the risk had been assessed as "slight".

Good for you Captain! :D

Mercenary Pilot
14th Aug 2006, 09:07
With the current security in place, im wondering how it was brought on board in the first place?

derekl
14th Aug 2006, 09:20
A Blackberry is just a mobile phone with smart software, so its characteristics are similar. It may have a more sensitive receiver due to its size permitting a better antenna system. It wouldn't work over the ocean (until you fly over Iceland!).

How did the phone get on board? Left there by cleaners, I expect.

pax britanica
14th Aug 2006, 10:46
I was travelling yesterday LHR-FRA-EWR, I never made the connection due to LHR delays butt ahts another story and understandable in the circumstances.

What puzzled ,me though was that while buying a bottle of water a mobile rang behind me and as i turned round it was answered by a young guy of 18-20 or so . He could have been staff but dressed in baggy trackies , trackie top with large gold chain and no visble passes I didnt think so.

I mentioned this toa BAA person a couple of minutes later about how did he get airside witha mobile and was met with total disinterest. I wont go into the details about him in case someone draws the wrong conclusions but lets just say he was absolutely not air or cabin crew and didnt look like any other aiside employee I have seen either. I might be wrong of course but the 'yeah whatever' response angered me as I checked in my mobile and then spenta fruitless day at FRA trying to get onward connections without having anyway of calling anyone and indeed still havent got my bag , phone house and car keys back.

In these troubled times should there be some clear direction or sign (no point in it being a phone number) about how any obvious suspicions could be reported to without going up to a guy with a shaven head and Heckler and Koch and risk having the teminal closed??

PB

Bumz_Rush
14th Aug 2006, 11:23
and as such perhaps the, once airside, regulation re strip and body cavity search at UK Airports, does not apply......also I assume he had a large bottle of pop with him.. (POP= soda=fizzy drink).

Which brings us to the point; what is the restriction on transit pax, and there oterwise perfectly legal hand baggage, mobiles, etc, etc....


Bumz

trident3A
14th Aug 2006, 12:33
Newspaper headline this morning:
'TERROR PANIC AT 35,000 FEET' - somewhat overstated it I thought :sad:

chandlers dad
14th Aug 2006, 13:37
All good points. I guess I'm just half deaf or no body rings me when I'm working.... Of interest, just how high up can Blackberries receive? Any one know?

The early series could pick up emails as high as F350, but not calls. The newer series is not as sensative and works below F150.

PaperTiger
14th Aug 2006, 18:05
'Eyewitness' account on BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4791595.stm).
Err, if the phone was there to trigger something nasty wouldn't the ringing have been drowned out by the BOOM ?
And isn't leaving the flight deck also a big no-no ?

The African Dude
14th Aug 2006, 18:13
I like your logic PaperTiger but the phone could have also been used to call OUT to trigger something. Sure- there are flaws in that argument too but it's a possibility.

apaddyinuk
14th Aug 2006, 19:10
Well according to the Evening Standard the flight turned back as a result of Passengers kicking up when the captain wanted to continue the journey!!!

ehwatezedoing
14th Aug 2006, 19:11
'Eyewitness' account on BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4791595.stm).

BA then offloaded all the bags from the plane. We were handed a lost luggage claim form and told to fill it in and that we might get our luggage back in a few days.
We finally landed in New York at around 0330.
I had no phone, no laptop or car and house keys.
My house keys were in my luggage, so in the early hours of the morning I had to break into my own house, which set the alarm off and I had to explain to the police what had happened when they arrived to investigate the alarm.
:ugh: :D :ugh: No need of a "boom" to trigger a mess.

And I'm not only talking about this particular case/flight.

Baat4
14th Aug 2006, 20:25
The phone was Nigerian and at no point passed through the UK Restricted Zone. It is believed to have been on the aircraft for several days. Says a lot for Securicor and BA Cleaners!!!

matt_hooks
14th Aug 2006, 23:56
Now that IS worrying!

If something the size of a mobile peone remained undetected in the cabin for several days, and we know it is quite possible to make a mobile sized device big enough to cause some serious, possibly terminal damage to an aircraft at altitude, then what else might lie undiscovered?

Also raises the question of security arrangements at other airports, where "intelligence" might not be so good!

Unfortunately I think we have to admit that these terrorists are a fairly sophisticated bunch, so if we can postulate things like this then I'm sure they can!

chandlers dad
15th Aug 2006, 00:56
Now that IS worrying!
If something the size of a mobile peone remained undetected in the cabin for several days, and we know it is quite possible to make a mobile sized device big enough to cause some serious, possibly terminal damage to an aircraft at altitude, then what else might lie undiscovered?

Also raises the question of security arrangements at other airports, where "intelligence" might not be so good!

Unfortunately I think we have to admit that these terrorists are a fairly sophisticated bunch, so if we can postulate things like this then I'm sure they can!

Well, lets look at it a bit deeper. An old friend of mine was the Captain of Pan Am 103. Thats the bad news. The good news is that he was flying the B727 from Frankfurt to London, where the pax were shuttled to a B747 for the hop across the pond, under the same flight number. He and his crew were in bed at the hotel in London when PA called, and they returned to the airport and flew the same B727 to Lockerbie with the company brass onboard to survey the area.

The bomb was onboard his airplane but did not explode for a simple reason. He was a heavy smoker and asked the FE to dial up the pressurization to exhaust the fumes of his smoking in the cockpit, which was not really allowed but he did it anyway. As well the weather was not good and he was not allowed to climb to normal enroute altitude, so they stayed low the entire flight. This kept the altitude in the airplane low, so it did not trigger the device.

They landed, transfered the suitcase from Malta with the bomb inside to the whale and once it reached the pressure altitude over Lockerbie, we know the result.

What I am getting at is that someone could smuggle a device into the plane in Africa or the Middle East, where the security is not the best. Rig it so that it would not fire on the first or second time it reached the "trigger" altitude but on the third or fourth. The cleaners do not find the device (it could be something as small as a phone hidden in a seat cushion) and it goes off on the third or fourth flight.

How do we fight it? Its going to be tough but we have no choice. Its either us or them and I do not intend let the terrorists win. It would sure go a long way when the security, our employers, CAA/FAA etc stop treating us as the enemy and start treating us as part of the team to stop terrorism.

eucalyptus
15th Aug 2006, 02:07
Unfortunately I think we have to admit that these terrorists are a fairly sophisticated bunch, so if we can postulate things like this then I'm sure they can!

Personally I think the terrorists are a sophisticated bunch only in terms of their operational technique, not their clarity of thought. I've yet to hear a decent comment from ANY terror organisation as to why they think it reasonable to destroy or cripple an aircraft to make their point. Further, I've never really understood what their point actually is. They might do things in a sophisticated manner but boy are they dumb politically. This is no way to gain supporters for your cause.

Anyway , that is way off topic. The important thing is the incident was ultimately harmless, and the captain made the right decision. Well done.

Regards,
eucalyptus

KC135777
15th Aug 2006, 03:32
...The bomb was onboard his airplane but did not explode for a simple reason. He was a heavy smoker and asked the FE to dial up the pressurization to exhaust the fumes of his smoking in the cockpit, which was not really allowed but he did it anyway....and he was not allowed to climb to normal enroute altitude, so they stayed low the entire flight. This kept the altitude in the airplane low, so it did not trigger the device.
C.D.....sorry to digress, but....
I believe, if you want to exhaust smoke from the cockpit, and use the pressurization to do it...you would actually INCREASE the cabin altitude (ie..which lowers the pressure differential--PSID). This technique would open the outflow valve more, and raise the cabin altitude and help clear smoke....thus negating the normally lower cabin altitude from the aircraft's lower cruise altitude. kc135777

Sunfish
15th Aug 2006, 03:45
Eucalyptus, you might like to consider two points.

It is extremely dangerous to underestimate your opponent as Israel has just found out to its cost. Various pundits are now saying that "of course hezbollah were trained by Iran", implying of course that they are still ignorant ragheads.

Question: What if the terrorists are as smart as you or I (OK, well forget me then)?

The second point concerns empathy - the ability to put yourself in another persons shoes. To me, dropping two one thousand pound laser guided bombs into a crowded Baghdad restaurant from 30,000 feet with no warning is terrorism. If I am in that restaurant I care not whether it is a bomb belt or a missile. I am just as dead.

Rumsfelds bombing campaign was labelled "Shock and Awe" is not that exactly what the terrorists wish to engender?

eucalyptus
15th Aug 2006, 08:30
Sunfish,
Don't misunderstand me, I really do not underestimate the competence of the terrorists (in whateverguise they may come) to wreak havoc. I was questioning the logic, not the capability.
I do agree, though, that terrorism comes in many forms, although here on PPRUNE we are, naturally, mostly concering ourselves with air-related threats.
I never meant to suggest we should ever treat these threats with anything less than the utmost gravity, but frankly, I am still missing something in the logic.
BUT....
In the interests of keeping this thread on topic I'll desist from any further observation on the motivation and logic of terrorists.
Cheers,
Eucalyptus

AuthorityStinks
15th Aug 2006, 08:57
Now that IS worrying!

If something the size of a mobile peone remained undetected in the cabin for several days, and we know it is quite possible to make a mobile sized device big enough to cause some serious, possibly terminal damage to an aircraft at altitude, then what else might lie undiscovered?

Also raises the question of security arrangements at other airports, where "intelligence" might not be so good!

Unfortunately I think we have to admit that these terrorists are a fairly sophisticated bunch, so if we can postulate things like this then I'm sure they can!


I recall a Lufty's A320 coming into AMS for a strip and respray with ordinary paper masking tape still attached to an area above the cockpit windows which was squared out for a paint touch up. It had happily lived there for at least one flight but more likely a number of flights.
On another occosion in a maintenance facility in Eire two cleaners went into the rear hold of a 73 with a huge can of thinners and a transitior radio for company......two minutes later the hangar fire alarm went off!

There are more things found on and in aircraft then you would like to think, the 2nd part shows not all cleaners have an intellect that surpases that of a dishcloth:ugh:

m5dnd
15th Aug 2006, 09:35
Chandlers Dad,
HI, I agree with Your points but the text below is from the AAIB report:

"Boeing 747, N739PA, arrived at London Heathrow Airport from SanFrancisco and parked on stand Kilo 14, to the south-east of Terminal3. Many of the passengers for this aircraft had arrived at Heathrow from Frankfurt, West Germany on a Boeing 727, which was positioned on stand Kilo 16,
next to N739PA. These passengers were transferred with their baggage to N739PA which was to operate the scheduled Flight PA103 to New York Kennedy. Passengers from other flights also joined Flight PA103 at Heathrow. After a 6 hour turnround,Flight PA103 was pushed back from the stand
at 18.04 hrs and was cleared to taxy on the inner taxiway to runway 27R. The only relevantNotam warned of work in progress on the outer taxiway. The departure was unremarkable. Flight PA103 took-off at 18.25 hrs. As it was approaching the Burnham VOR it took up a radar heading of 350 and flew below the Bovingdon holding point at 6000 feet. It was then cleared to
climb initially to flight level (FL) 120 and subsequently to FL 310. The aircraft levelled off at FL 310 north west of PoleHill VOR at 18.56 hrs. Approximately 7 minutes later, ShanwickOceanic Control transmitted the aircraft's oceanic clearance but this transmission was not acknowledged. The secondary radar return from Flight PA103 disappeared"

Sorry to correct...

The famous saying is now "May We live in interesting (and dangerous) times"

Time to get to the root of the problem..

Regards
M5DND

Buster Hyman
15th Aug 2006, 09:49
If it was in the hold, nobody would hear it (apart from maybe AVI)
Perhaps the HUM answered it before the AVI heard it?

chandlers dad
15th Aug 2006, 14:55
C.D.....sorry to digress, but....
I believe, if you want to exhaust smoke from the cockpit, and use the pressurization to do it...you would actually INCREASE the cabin altitude (ie..which lowers the pressure differential--PSID). This technique would open the outflow valve more, and raise the cabin altitude and help clear smoke....thus negating the normally lower cabin altitude from the aircraft's lower cruise altitude. kc135777

Am just telling you what he told me, and I know he flew the PA103 bird from FFM to London. The fact that he is alive to tell all of us the story (it was at a QB gathering) tells a lot. How he did it or why it did not blow may be another story.

M5, not sure how what was posted applies to this flight other than to show more detail. If I am missing something pls advise.