2018-07-04 / Front Page

JetBlue Hijack Alert Snarls JFK Traffic

By Liz Goff

A JetBlue pilot sparked a heightened alert at JFK International Airport on June 25th, when he lost contact with air traffic controllers and accidentally signaled that his aircraft was being hijacked, authorities said.

The alert triggered a massive response by police, firefighters, Port Authority and NYPD K-9 Units, FDNY and other ambulance crews and other first responders that caused a series of departure/arrival delays and snarled ground traffic in and outside the airport.

JetBlue flight 1623, with 158 people on board, was about to take off from JFK to Los Angeles at about 7:30 p.m. on June 25th when the pilot tried to enter a code to alert the JFK tower that his radio wasn’t working, when he accidentally signaled that a hijacking was underway, a police source said.

Air traffic controllers who were unable to contact the pilot for confirmation had no choice but to sound the alert, calling out cops, firefighters and other first responders, the source said. “The whole world raced out to the tarmac,” the source said. “They clearly meant business.”

JetBlue spokesperson Paula Acevedo said the alert was a direct response to the pilot’s false alarm.

JetBlue officials later said the aircraft “was searched, secured and cleared for departure with no security threat.” The flight departed JFK for Los Angeles at about 11:23 p.m., Port Authority officials said.

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