Federal authorities are investigating a false police report that diverted a US Airways flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Dallas, Texas, Thursday morning.
The false tip claimed a specific passenger on board the plane was carrying explosives. The US Airways flight had departed Philadelphia around 8 a.m. and was called back about 40 minutes later. The passenger, whose name has not been released by authorities, was escorted off the plane by police, but according to authorities, was not carrying explosives or anything harmful.
“Philadelphia police got a call identifying him as carrying explosives, but it appears that he had nothing on him,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge J.J. Klaver, spokesman for the Philadelphia office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “We’re still investigating, and I guess you could say it was a hoax, but calling it a hoax implies we know the motive and we still don’t know what was behind this yet. Was it revenge or some other kind of personal dispute is something we can’t say yet. We’re hoping to charge someone, because a lot of resources were focused on this: local police, Homeland Security and our department. Someone needs to know this is not acceptable behavior by any stretch of the imagination.”
According to FBI spokesperson Frank Burton, the anonymous call was placed to the Philadelphia Police Department at the airport at 7:20 a.m. The caller gave the passenger’s name and stated that he had liquid explosives and was scheduled to fly to Texas between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on US Airways Flight 1267, bound for Dallas. When the plane returned, the suspected passenger was escorted off the plane by a Philadelphia Police Department’s SWAT team.
“The call was unfounded,” Burton said. “The plane departed at 8:30 a.m. and was near Harrisburg when it was diverted back to Philadelphia. There were 69 passengers and five crew members on board — all of them were escorted off the plane and screened and their belongings checked. No explosives or weapons were found and no radiation was detected and everyone was cleared. I have to say this was a well-coordinated operation by Philadelphia Police, TSA and US Airways. This is still under investigation; the suspect didn’t have anything on him, but he’s still being questioned.”
The suspected passenger was a white male in his 20s. He has since been released. The incident remains under investigation.