Philadelphia police investigating hoax in airplane diversion

Reuters News

9/6/2012 10:30:16 AM - Reuters News

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A US Airways plane bound for Dallas was ordered back to Philadelphia International Airport early on Thursday after police received a call about explosives on board that they later determined was a hoax.

The incident began with a phone call to Philadelphia police at about 7:30 a.m. local time (1130 GMT), when a caller reported that a passenger on board the flight had illegal devices or a hazardous substance, according to authorities.

The plane, Flight 1267, which had taken off for Dallas a short time earlier, was diverted back to the airport, authorities said. One passenger was taken from the plane for questioning.

Authorities evacuated and searched the plane, found no explosives and later determined the initial call appeared to be a prank being played on the passenger, who was in his 20s.

"There was no emergency. There was a threat, but that threat was unfounded," Philadelphia Police Inspector Joe Sullivan told a news conference.

"That flight was never in any danger. And I just want to stress right now that the male that was briefly taken in for investigation has committed no crime... This is an ongoing investigation, but at this time all indications are that this was a hoax."

He added, "a pretty nasty trick was played on a passenger."

Todd Lehmacher, a spokesman for U.S. Airways, said Flight 1267 eventually left for Dallas at about 11:15 a.m, after most of the original passengers reboarded the plane.

The passenger who was questioned was in the process of rebooking his flight, police said.

(Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Will Dunham and Vicki Allen)