Singapore Airlines flight grounded after bomb threat

PHOTO: A flight was grounded in South Africa after a bomb threat was called in. (via Singapore Airlines)

A bomb threat led to an emergency grounding of a Singapore Airlines flight in South Africa. Singapore Airlines flight SQ478 was grounded in Johannesburg yesterday following the threat. The aircraft landed at OR Tambo International Airport and all 58 passengers and 15 crew members successfully disembarked.

The plane was flying from Singapore to Cape Town and was just doing a layover in Johannesburg when the airline received information about the potential threat. No details about the content of the threat or the source of the bomb scare have been released yet.

According to the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), it received a bomb threat call for Singapore Airlines Flight SQ478, scheduled to depart from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Tuesday morning. Singapore Airlines evacuated the plane immediately at the Johannesburg Airport – the busiest on the entire continent of Africa – and began security inspections.

Authorities joined the airline in conducting supplementary security checks and further investigation of the bomb threat. The police, with the assistance of K-9 units, conducted a thorough search of the plane and confirmed that there was no explosive device on board, according to Acsa’s statement.

“The aircraft landed at OR Tambo (International Airport). Emergency services were activated, along with fire and rescue and the South Africa Police Service.”

After the security checks were completed, the plane departed Johannesburg at 12.37pm and arrived in Cape Town at 2.29pm, approximately five hours behind schedule. The airline said in a statement…

“SIA takes the safety of our customers and staff very seriously. The airline also apologized for the inconvenience caused by the delay.

“All 58 passengers and 15 crew disembarked the aircraft safely, and supplementary security checks were conducted. SIA also assisted the authorities with their investigations.”

Last September, the airline dealt with another bomb threat. A flight from San Francisco California to Singapore suffered a bomb threat midway through the journey. Singapore Airlines flight SQ33 alerted the Singapore Police Force early this morning that a passenger had become unruly and claimed to have a bomb on board the flight. While the claim was found to be false, the flight was on high alert and the Republic of Singapore Air Force was deployed.

The flight crew followed emergency procedures and made a descent while circling over the South China Sea around 4.30am rather than a more direct descent as it arrived in Singapore. When the plane made its landing, Royal Singapore Air Force F-16 fighter jets escorted the commercial flight to Changi Airport. Due to the bomb threat, the aircraft was led away from the terminal and was parked at a remote bay. There the plane and all the passengers were thoroughly screened and put through security checks.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.