The Airbus A330 was en route from Doha, Qatar to Manchester before being accompanied into its destination “as a result of information received by the pilot about a possible device on board”.
The plane was carrying 269 passengers and 13 crew at the time of the alert, and one male passenger was later led away in handcuffs “on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat.”
Both passengers and surprised onlookers posted pictures to social media of the two planes as they made their approach. Aviation experts have since detailed that two fighter jets were scrambled from RAF Coningsby, but the second could not be seen in the photos. The second plane would have been flying at a higher altitude than the visible one.
Upon landing Qatar Airways QR23 was met by emergency services.
A man dressed in a green t-shirt with short, cropped hair can be seen being led away from the plane in images later uploaded to social media.
Fighter jet escorting airline: An appropriate response?
Some in the media have since questioned whether scrambling two fighter planes was entirely necessary.
According to Paul Beaver, an aviation consultant, the response was “all well practiced procedure” carried out in accordance with contingency plans.
Greater Manchester Police claimed that it was necessary to treat the situation as a real emergency, but called for people to remain calm. Flights were disrupted following a brief closure of the runway as specialist offers boarded the plane and removed the suspect.
Cabin crew have not specified how the threat was communicated.
Business as usual
Greater Manchester Police have since moved to clarify the situation, claiming that “a full search of the aircraft has now finished and nothing suspicious was found.”
Although nine incoming flights were diverted in response to the twenty five minute runway closure, operations quickly returned to normal.
A 47 year old man remains in police custody and cabin crew are assisting the authorities in their investigation.
Despite the initial panic caused by the fighter jet, it is reassuring to see anti-terror protocols in place to neutralize potential threats.