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Two men arrested after RAF Typhoon fighter jets scrambled to escort Pakistan Airlines passenger plane to Stansted following 'incident on board'

Published: 24/05/2013

Two men were arrested at Stansted Airport on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft today after an RAF Typhoon jet was scrambled to escort a passenger plane travelling from Pakistan to the UK, Essex Police said.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the Typhoon jet, from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, escorted the diverted Pakistan International Airlines flight from Manchester to Stansted Airport.

The airline has said the decision to divert the flight to Stansted was taken for security reasons, and the airport has said no one was hurt in the incident.

Pakistan International Airlines PK709  was the scheduled 0935 Lahore to Manchester flight. Manchester Airport has confirmed there were 297 passengers on board.

It is understood that the incident happened around 10 minutes before the plane was due to land in Manchester at 2pm.

The aircraft was re-routed and sent back out to the North Sea before travelling to Stansted.

An Essex police spokeswoman told Sky News: "An incident has occurred on an aircraft. Police and partners are responding," and a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "A Typhoon aircraft has been launched to investigate an incident involving a civilian aircraft within UK airspace."

When the aircraft landed safely it was isolated - a measure that could be precautionary.

The very same plane on the very same flight - from Lahore to Manchester - had to be diverted to Stansted on September 7 2011 due to a bomb scare.

Mahmouda Aslam, 50, from Prestwich, Manchester was at the airport awaiting her husband, Mohammed on the flight.

After speaking to her husband on his mobile, she said: "I said, 'Are you alright? Are you scared?' He said, 'We are all OK. The flight is full of police.'"

An MoD spokesman said the incident was now a police matter and "our involvement is over".

He said Typhoon jets can be scrambled after the pilot or crew of a passenger aircraft sends out an emergency signal.

He said: "The purpose of going up is to investigate what the situation is. Often when a Quick Reaction Alert aircraft is launched the details are not known, but it is known that a signal has been sent.

"Part of the purpose of sending a Typhoon up is to have a look and see what they can see."

The MoD would not confirm how serious the incident was.


Source The Independent.
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