UPDATE: 7.40pm AEDT: The flight’s co-pilot was the hijacker, authorities have confirmed. He acted alone, and locked himself in the cockpit after taking control of the aircraft.
He escaped from the cockpit down a rope, where he was arrested before passengers and crew were rescued, according to Bloomberg.
UPDATE 6.03pm AEDT: The hijacker is in custody. There’s speculation it may have been one of the pilots.
UPDATE 5.37pm AEDT:
Here’s what we know:
- A Geneva aircraft spokesman quoted by Reuters says a hijacked aircraft, an Ethiopian Airlines 767, has landed safely
- While flying over Sudan, on a flight from Addis Ababa to Rome, the plane set its squawk box to 7500 – the internationally recognised signal that pilots use for a hijacking in progress
- The plane passed its destination and began circling over Geneva for more than 10 minutes before landing safely
- Geneva airport has been shut to traffic
- Ethiopia airlines issued a short statement saying the flight had been “forced” to continue to Geneva, but that all passengers and crew were safe
- Air Traffic Control audio contained an apparent request for asylum
UPDATE 4.47pm AEDT:
Ethiopian Airlines just issued this statement on its website:
Ethiopian Airlines flight 702 on scheduled service departing from Addis Ababa at 00:30 (local time) scheduled to arrive in Rome at 04:40 (local time) was forced to proceed to Geneva Airport. Accordingly, the flight has landed safely at Geneva Airport. All passengers and crew are safe at Geneva Airport.
Ethiopian Airlines is making immediate arrangements to fly its esteemed customers on-board the flight to their intended destinations.
The key phrase here is “was forced to proceed to Geneva”, which appears to confirm a hijacking scenario.
An Ethiopian Airlines jet bound for Rome flew on to Geneva and started circling over the airport before landing shortly after 4pm AEDT. It’s now sitting on the runway.
Details are still extremely sketchy on what happened, but it appears the pilots set their transponder to 7500, which is the international aviation signal for a hijacking in progress, although it can be used to signal other threats, or be a mistake.
Geneva Airport has been closed.
The hashtag #ET702 is trending worldwide on Twitter as people follow the unfolding drama.
The air traffic control audio below, captured from the flight, appears to contain some kind of request for asylum around the one-minute mark.
We’ll update as we know more.
An Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Rome has reportedly missed its destination, started the international aviation signal for a hijacking, and started circling over Geneva.
The aircraft’s squawk was set to 7500, which pilots are trained to use in the event of a hijacking. It could be a signal of a number of different threats other than hijackings, however.
Twitter has lit up tracking the #ET702 hashtag. There’s also speculation that the airliner is running low on fuel.
The flight appears to have passed Rome, its destination, and circled over Geneva before landing, as the screengrab from flightradar24 shows.
You can track the flight live here.
These are early reports. Check back for updates.
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