Coffee spill causes hijack scare

2011-01-05 18:22
Toronto - A pilot's spilled coffee accidentally triggered a hijacking alert and caused a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany, to make an unscheduled stop in Canada.

A Transport Canada report said United Flight 940 was diverted to Toronto late on Monday and landed safely at Pearson International Airport. The coffee sent out distress signals including code 7500, which means hijacking or unlawful interference.

The report says Canada's defence department was notified, but that with the help of United dispatch staff the flight crew confirmed it to be a communication issue and not a hijacking.

The report on Transport Canada's website said the US Federal Aviation Administration reported that United's corporate office had indicated that the pilot "had inadvertently squawked a 7500 code after spilling coffee on the aircraft's radio equipment, which interfered with the communications equipment."

United spokesperson Rahsaan Johnson had said on Tuesday that the pilot elected to divert the flight rather than cross the Atlantic Ocean while experiencing a communications problem.

The Boeing 777 was carrying 241 passengers and 14 crew.

Johnson said United flew them back to Chicago on another plane and put them up in hotel rooms overnight.

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