How many Ethiopian 787 photos did you see on the story about a 767? Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
The way people across the globe are able to get their breaking news is changing. I found it very interesting how the Ethiopian flight 702 story was broken and covered.
Personally, I had just wrapped up a great Aviation Geek Fest 2014 and was tired. I decided to head to a bar with Jason Rabinowitz and Ben Granucci (other AvGeeks and some who write for sites like Airchive.com and NYCAviation.com) to have a beer and write some emails. Then I got word from one of our writers, Bernie Leighton, that he thought an airliner had just been hijacked. Jason confirmed he was hearing some rumors as well. It was game time – I switched gears and tried to start confirming what we were seeing.
As Jason and Ben went running to their cars to grab their electronic devices, I started to coordinate with Bernie and our Associate Editor, Blaine Nickeson, via Google chat about who was going to do what with this story.
Photo of the Boeing 767 (reg ET-AMF) that was hijacked as flight ETH702 – Photo: Fabrice Clerc | Flicker CC
At 5:00pm Pacific Time, Ethiopian Flight 702, a Boeing 767-300 (registered ET-AMF) was flying over Sudan when it started squawking 7500. The transponder code, is supposed to indicate a “hijacking.”
Sometimes, pilots accidentally switch to this code or equipment malfunctions. This however, does not appear to be the case. The aircraft can be tracked live via Flightradar 24.
This was hopefully just an error, but this was certainly a deviation from normal flight.
We have reached out to a source who is an aircraft electrical expert and they confirmed that a “7500” code can’t come from a glitch.
The flight, operating from Addis Abba to Rome has been confirmed by Rome Airport not to have arrived yet. It is currently circling over Geneva Airport (GVA), with a military escort. Emergency crews are standing by a GVA.
The unusual flight path the hijacked aircraft took prior to its safe landing – Image: Flightradar24
The aircraft landed in Geneva, safely, but with an extremely limited quantity of fuel remaining.
This story will be updated as details emerge.
We will also be live updating via twitter with #ET702
Ethiopian Airlines Press Release:
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.
Once the press release went out to the public, the airline recanted it. Shortly it was re-released with minor changes.
- The aircraft now has 20 minutes of fuel remaining (8:45pm PST) via LiveATC.net
- Reports of one engine potentially flaming out (unconfirmed via LiveATC)
- Reports of the aircraft being directed to make an approach but not landing until a response is given regarding the word “asylum” (via LiveATC)
- Fuel warning has been received on the flight deck (Via LiveATC)
- Aircraft apparently cleared for an ILS approach. What could be a hostage negotiator has been heard on the radio (Via LiveATC)
- Response to the request will be given by Swiss Authorities on Short Final for landing on Runway 05 (via LiveATC)
- AIRCRAFT HAS LANDED SAFELY (Via FlightRadar24 and LiveATC)
- Pilots heard on radio stating they will be exiting via the aircraft flight deck window. (via LiveATC)
- Airport/Airspace around Geneva is now closed (via LiveATC)
- Geneva airport remains closed (updated at 10:01PST)
- Unconfirmed reports the aircraft is parked at the end of Runway 05.
- Asylum request still pending. (9:33PST)
- International arrivals into Geneva are diverting to other airports (via FlightRadar 24)
- “We will disembark our passengers within the next 5 minutes and we will call you back.” Heard over LiveATC. (10:13pm PST) According to John Walton- this may actually have been regarding the arrival of BA723.
- Geneva Airport now saying that police are still negotiating with hijackers. (10:32pm)
- As of 10:42pm, there are unconfirmed rumors there is a lone hijacker.
- Geneva Airport Police confidently stating that no one has been hurt (10:45pm)
- Swiss Authorities stating that they have arrested the hi-jacker
- There is a press conference scheduled for 9:00am CET (12:00am PST)
- Swiss Police confirming that a pilot aboard the aircraft is the individual in custody (10:54pm PST)
- Signs of life on Geneva ATC are starting to be heard- normal airport operations are expected to resume shortly (10:56pm) (via Live ATC)
- News from the press conference indicates that it may have been the first officer that hijacked the aircraft (12:16am PST)
- The aircraft was apparently escorted by two Eurofighter Typhoons (12:20am PST)
- The co-pilot locked himself in the flight deck and was unarmed (12:27am)
- Regardless of where the hijacker is tried (either Geneva or Bern)- he is looking at a potential 20 year sentence.
- Back in 1996 an Ethiopian 767 had to ditch in the water due to hi-jackers and lack of fuel. Fight 961
Today starts the two-day amazing aviation event Aviation Geek Fest Seattle! We have about 300 different people (200 per day, some doing just one day), over the course of the event that will experience some pretty cool things. If you were one of those who would have loved to come, but were not able to make it, you can still enjoy through the wonder of social media.
You can follow through our Facebook, our Twitter and the #AGF14 hashtag (also seen below). There will be times of great activity, followed by total silence as we enter periods where no cameras are allowed. If you like what you see and might want to join in on a future AvGeek Fest in the future, make sure you are on the mailing list.
Etihad Airbus A340-600 taking off – Photo: Jacob Pfleger
Recently, Etihad Airways had a very attractive sale on business class fares between its European gateways and Australia, including codeshares with Czech Airlines from Prague. This was simply too good an offer to pass up, being the AvGeek I am.
Gear retraction on Etihad A340 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger
As I booked via the Etihad website, I was able to partake in the online upgrade auction system. This program is a fairly recent initiative introduced by Etihad Airways, along with other carriers. The program sends out an email approximately a week before the flight, inviting business class passengers to bid on unsold seats in the first class cabin, as well as business class seats for those in economy. Bids for a first class upgrade ranged from $600-$1500 (USD) for the Abu Dhabi-Sydney flight. I bid $1000, as I was celebrating my birthday and thought it would make a nice present. Bidders are advised of the outcome 48 hours prior to the flight. The system is still in the trial stage; I only got an email T-24 hours, advising that my bid had been accepted.
Upon arriving at the combined first and business class terminal at Abu Dhabi, I was greeted by a porter who took care of my luggage and escorted me to the first class check-in area. Unlike conventional check-in desks, the first class area is set up like a classy hotel, where you take a seat at a desk with an agent who processes your booking. The whole process took no more than five minutes and I was on my way to the first class lounge.