False alarm: SIA flight from LA to Singapore sends signal indicating possible hijack

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson confirmed to Daily Mail while the plane was still in the air that there was no emergency on board the flight.
PHOTO: Reuters file

A Singapore Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Singapore caused some anxiousness among those on the ground when it reportedly sent out a 7500 transponder code on Saturday (June 11). The code is used to indicate a hostile situation on board the plane.

Thankfully, the signal turned out to be a false alarm.

The Daily Mail on Saturday reported that SQ37 had left Los Angeles International Airport just before midnight local time on Friday and was scheduled to land on Sunday at 7.50am.

Shortly after takeoff, however, a 7500 transponder code from the airplane was picked up by flight tracker ADS-B Exchange.

According to reports, the 7500 transponder code is one of three internationally-recognised emergency codes, with 7500 corresponding to an 'unlawful interference' which can refer to incidents such as a hijacking or bomb threat. The code is meant to alert air traffic controllers and for appropriate actions to be taken.

Former Reuters journalist Noreen Jameel had tweeted about the code being sent about two hours after take-off, Daily Mail reported.

Other tweets soon followed.

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson confirmed to Daily Mail while the plane was still in the air that there was no emergency on board the flight.

The spokesperson was quoted as saying that the airline was "in contact with the pilots on board SQ37, operated on an Airbus A350-900", and that "the pilots have confirmed that there is no emergency on board".

Daily Mail added that the flight appeared to continue on its course and the emergency signal was not repeated, which indicated that it could have been a technical glitch.

Photo: Screengrab/Changi Airport

According to flight data, the plane landed earlier than expected, at 7.36am on Sunday morning.

AsiaOne has reached out to Singapore Airlines for more information.

For many, the incident would probably bring to mind Singapore Airlines flight 117, which was hijacked by four Pakistani nationals on March 26, 1991. The plane carrying 114 passengers and 11 crew members was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore at the time.

The tense situation came to a close after commandos from the Singapore Armed Forces stormed the plane eight hours after it landed at Changi Airport, killing all four men.

candicecai@asiaone.com