Dutch F-16s Escort Plane Back to Airport

Dutch F-16s escorted a Northwest Airlines flight bound for India back to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on Wednesday after the pilot radioed an unspecified security alarm.


Dutch F-16s escorted a Northwest Airlines flight bound for India back to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on Wednesday after the pilot radioed an unspecified security alarm, and authorities questioned some of the passengers, officials said.

The pilot of Flight NW0042 to Bombay radioed Schiphol for permission to return and for a military escort as it was flying over Germany shortly after leaving Amsterdam, said spokeswoman Pamela Kuypers.

Several passengers on the flight to Bombay were taken off the plane for questioning, and others were questioned at the gate, Kuypers said. Routine security measures were swiftly put into place.

Customs police were investigating, she said.

Customs police spokesman Rick Hirs said it was not yet clear why the plane had returned. He said no one had been arrested and there were no injuries.

The Dutch National Terrorism Coordinator's Office had been informed of the incident but said there was no cause to raise the national threat level, said spokeswoman Judith Sluiter.

"It is the same as it was before - light threat," Sluiter said.

It was not immediately clear how many passengers were on board the plane, but a Northwest DC-10 has a seating capacity of 273, and Kuypers said the plane was full "as far as I know."

Kuypers said the aircraft parked at the gate when it returned to allow all other passengers to disembark.

Like airports around the world, Schiphol raised the level of security two weeks ago after British police uncovered a suspected plot to blow up several U.S.-bound commercial jetliners, but Kuypers said threat levels had returned to normal.

Several alerts have been sounded since the terrorism plot was outlined in London. On Friday, a British plane made an emergency landing in southern Italy after a bomb scare, and the U.S. Air Force scrambled jets to escort a United Airlines flight from London to Washington as it was diverted to Boston.

Wednesday's security alert was the first at Amsterdam's international airport since September, when a British Airways flight returned in similar circumstances. It turned out to be a false alarm.


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