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Word on bag gets flight evacuated – but via windows?

June 7, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A threatening note discovered in the toilet on a Virgin Australia domestic flight – reportedly consisting of just one word written on a sick bag – led to the plane being speedily evacuated on landing and a man later charged.

Passengers aboard flight VA1174 from Sydney to Albury evacuated the plane on crew instructions when it when it halted on the tarmac at Albury Airport yesterday morning, 9 News reported.

NSW Police confirmed that a man had been charged over the incident.

“About 9.15am (Tuesday 6 June 2017) Albury police received information that a note was located on an item in the toilets of an aircraft en route to Albury. About 9.30am the aircraft landed and police boarded the plane and immediately evacuated the passengers.

“A 30-year-old man was arrested and taken to Albury Police Station. He was charged with send document threatening death or grievous bodily harm and give false information person/property in danger. The man was granted conditional bail to appear in Albury Local Court on 4 July 2017.”

News reports said the note contained just one word which suggested possible danger aboard.

The incident was widely reported, with National Public Radio news in the US describing it as a bomb scare.

Albury commander Superintendent Evan Quarmby told reporters that passengers were “evacuated safely, very efficiently and should all be congratulated on the assistance they’ve given to police this morning”.

Virgin Australia ATR 72. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Some reports were colourful indeed. A Sydney retiree aboard the flight said she heard a flight attendant shout: “Evacuate, evacuate. Leave all your belongings, jump out the window!”

Several outlets reported that passengers leapt out of the windows. An ABC News report online carried the headline: “Virgin flight passengers evacuate via window, man arrested after plane lands”.

Another vivid report said: “Passengers were evacuated from the flight, jumping from windows into the arms of waiting police officers.”

Virgin Australia uses an ATR 72 turboprop on the route. Evacuating an aircraft via the windows would seem to be a highly unusual procedure. For a start, windows on pressurised aircraft can’t usually be opened. What can the answer be?

Written by Peter Needham

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