Packed with thrills and spills of an aircraft hijack

It was about 12.10 pm on Tuesday. Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) Air Traffic Control (ATC) received an SOS (save our soul) message from the crew of a Dubai-bound aircraft, which had taken off at 12 pm.

After learning that the aircraft was being “hijacked,” the ATC immediately reported the matter to security agencies, following which, the Aerodrome Committee held an emergency meeting in the Emergency Operations Control Room to co-ordinate the rescue operations.

“While the hijack drama was on, the aircraft engine suddenly caught fire forcing the pilot to return to BIA and land the aircraft,” an official said, adding that it was shifted to the isolation bay immediately, where one ‘injured passenger’ was pushed out of the aircraft by the hijackers.

All the drama unfolded during the ‘Anti-Hijack Mock Exercise’ enacted by the Aerodrome Committee of the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) to test the alertness and preparedness for handling “unlawful interference with civil aviation operations” at BIA.

Eventually, after the rescue operation, the hijackers surrendered at about 2.09 pm, and a ‘bid to hijack the aircraft’ was successfully foiled by the alert security authorities. Officials, however, said that ‘one passenger was killed and two others were injured’. A total of 30 passengers and six crew members were onboard.

“S K Pattanayak, Additional Chief Secretary to Government, Home Department told the newsmen at BIAL that the hijack drama was thwarted due to the skilful handling of the situation by various agencies including the CISF, NSG, NACIL, Air Force, Army, State Intelligence and Air Force Authority of India,” a release by the Information Department stated

According to the release, an ‘elaborate dialogue’ with the mock hijackers was rehearsed, real-time action plans were being mooted based on threat perceptions.

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