SINGAPORE: Earlier this month, a bomb threat on Scoot flight TR16 forced the Perth-bound plane to turn back to Singapore.
An Australian passenger was arrested and charged with making false threats of terrorist acts. He allegedly repeatedly told cabin crew that he had a bomb.
Last year, Singapore Airlines flight SQ33 from San Francisco also had a similar scare, when a bomb threat was made more than 12 hours after take-off.
The plane eventually landed safely at Changi Airport and the passenger was given a stern warning and jail for slapping a cabin crew member.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) Air Defence Task Group deals with more than 350 suspicious air threats each year on average, according to a 2022 article from the Singapore Armed Forces PIONEER magazine.
What can passengers expect after a bomb threat is made on a plane, and how do security efforts take place thousands of feet above ground? CNA finds out.
What happens after a bomb threat is made?
Airlines follow international procedures to vet each threat, said Professor Jeffrey Charles Price, who teaches aviation and aerospace science at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.
The specific processes are confidential. But not every bomb threat is acted on. It is important to determine if the threat is real, or the aviation system could be shut down by someone calling in bomb hoaxes all day, he pointed out.
Authorities will have to look at all the information available, including whether the threat was made by somebody on the plane or came in a phone call or email.
Once an airline determines that a threat requires further action, it will notify its national aviation authority and the air traffic control.
The RSAF scrambled two fighter jets mere minutes after being alerted to the bomb threat on SQ33, according to PIONEER.
Explosive ordnance disposal experts from the 36th Battalion of the Singapore Combat Engineers also stood by on the ground to determine if that bomb threat was real.
RSAF can also use artificial intelligence and data analytics to formulate its response, and put ground-based air defence systems and sensors on high alert, according to an article in PIONEER about a 2022 air threat exercise.