Pilot Causes Hijacking Scare in India After Squawking Distress Code
An Ariana Afghan Airlines flight was delayed more than two hours after the pilot in command accidentally squawked a distress code indicating that the flight had been hijacked. The flight was scheduled to depart Delhi (DEL) at 2:30pm local time bound for Kandahar, Afghanistan (KDH). As the flight made its way to the runway, authorities were alerted to the departing flight squawking 7500, a code that indicates a flight has been hijacked, as it made its way to the runway, causing local authorities to spring into action.
Upon transmitting the distress call, multiple anti-terror forces responded to the false alarm. The flight was kept on the ground in isolation for more than two hours until authorities could verify that the flight was secure. Upon deeming the security of the aircraft "satisfactory," the plane continued on to its destination without incident.
The hijacking scare is reported to have occurred on November 10th. The flight, Ariana Afghan Airlines flight FG312, was operated by a Boeing 737-400 (registration YA-PID). There were 9 crew members and 125 passengers onboard the flight.
Local news outlets are publishing stories reporting that FG312 was delayed after the pilots "accidentally hit the hijacking button." While there isn't a dedicated hijacking button aboard an aircraft, there are ways for pilots to indicate that a flight has been hijacked. This is done through the use of the aircraft's transponder and squawk codes. The international squawk code for a hijacking is 7500. Following the September 11th attacks, international standards were changed to prevent anyone from switching off the 7500 squawk code until authorities confirm a threat does not exist.
This is not the first incident for Ariana Afghan Airlines. The airline's track record is so poor that it is not allowed to overfly or serve the European Union. Among some of the airline's more recent accidents include two runway excursions, one in 2007 and again in 2014. The airline has not issued a statement regarding the incident.
This also isn't the first time Kandahar International Airport has experienced a hijacking incident. In 1999, a Taliban boarded an Indian Airlines flight bound for Delhi and demanded the aircraft land at Kandahar Airport. The incident resulted in one fatality and 17 injuries.