False alarm as emergency transponder code from Singapore Airlines plane sparks hijacking fears after leaving Los Angeles
- An apparent technical glitch sparked a false hijacking alarm on flight SQ37 today
- The flight heading to Singapore took off from Los Angeles just before midnight
- It appears to have sent out a 7500 transponder code, which indicates a hijacking
- The emergency signal is no longer being sent, indicating a glitch or false alarm
An apparent technical glitch sparked a false hijacking alarm today when a Singapore Airlines flight transmitted a transponder code indicating a possible hostile takeover of the aircraft.
Singapore Airlines flight SQ37 sent out 7500 transponder code shortly after taking off from Los Angeles International Airport, according to online flight tracker ADS-B Exchange.
However, the flight has continued on its normal course and an emergency signal is no longer being received – indicating a technical glitch or false alarm.
The aircraft, which is flying to Singapore, left the West Coast of the United States before midnight yesterday.
It is scheduled to land in Southeast Asia at 7.50am, spending most of its time in the air over the Pacific Ocean.
The Singapore Airline flight (file photo) took off from Los Angeles International Airport shortly before midnight
The aircraft was over the Pacific Ocean when it allegedly sent out a 7500 transponder code, which is the internationally recognised signal for a hijacking
Former Reuters journalist Noreen Jameel tweeted the aircraft had sent out the code shortly after take off
In a tweet published at 9.52am this morning, former Reuters journalist Noreen Jameel tweeted: ‘Watch. Singapore Airlines flight SQ37 sent out 7500 (possible hijack) transponder code shortly after taking off from Los Angeles International Airport.’
Singapore Airlines has been contacted for comment.
Aircraft hijackings are rare occurrences, with tight security at airports designed to prevent people bringing on possible items that could be used to force a takeover of the plane.
Since the September 11 attacks, which saw four planes hijacked by terrorists, rules have been introduced to tighten security on aircraft as well, with the FAA in the United States requiring all operators to install tougher cockpit doors to lower the chances of people being able to break in.
Some countries also provide air marshals, who are put on flights that could be considered high-risk based on intelligence, to ensure no hijackings take place.
In the very rare event of a hijacking the pilot of an aircraft is supposed to send out a 7500 code on its transponder.
This is to alert is so air traffic controllers can monitor the situation and take appropriate actions in response.
Since the transponder code was sent the Singapore Airlines aircraft has continued along its normal course (file photo)
The 7500 code is one of three emergency transponder codes that is defined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The others are 7600, which is supposed to be used in the event of a radio failure or loss of communications, and 7700 which is for other emergencies.
Singapore Airlines has only ever had one of its aircraft hijacked.
In 1991 four Pakistani terrorists hijacked flight 117 shortly after it took off from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, demanding the release of the husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
The flight landed at Singapore airport, at which point hostage negotiations took place.
After more than eight hours of talks, Singaporean Armed Forces stormed the plane, killing all four in the process. No hostages were killed.