Fake bomb threat on Scoot flight

Training prepared us for task, says RSAF crew

The RSAF crew who suited up and took off in two F-15SG fighter jets on Thursday. (From left) Captain Chong Qiu Wei, weapon systems officer (fighter), 31; Captain Loy Shi Bin, pilot, 28; Captain James Chai Wang Cong, pilot, 29; and Major Peter Liow Ti
The RSAF crew who suited up and took off in two F-15SG fighter jets on Thursday. (From left) Captain Chong Qiu Wei, weapon systems officer (fighter), 31; Captain Loy Shi Bin, pilot, 28; Captain James Chai Wang Cong, pilot, 29; and Major Peter Liow Tian Heng, weapon systems officer (fighter), 39. PHOTO: REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE AIR FORCE

Team recounts how it escorted plane back to Changi Airport in two F-15SG fighter jets

Within minutes of being notified of an alleged bomb threat on board a Scoot plane on Thursday afternoon, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) scrambled two of its F-15SG fighter jets.

The four aircrew members who suited up and took off said it was only when they were airborne that they received details and further orders of the mission.

"We have gone through regular and rigorous training to ensure that we are always ready for the task," the crew said through the Defence Ministry.

Their job was to escort Scoot Flight TR634 back to Changi Airport. The plane had taken off at 1.20pm and was bound for Hat Yai in Thailand.

"Once we had successfully joined up with the Scoot plane, we established communications with the pilots through the assigned radio frequency, informing them that they were being escorted by the RSAF fighters and to comply with all our instructions," the F-15SG aircrew said.

"We also got the pilots' attention by flying close to the Scoot plane so that they could see us. We checked visually if there were any abnormal activities within the cockpit and the cabin. We then escorted the Scoot plane to land, while constantly ensuring that the pilots complied with all our instructions."


One of the two F-15SG jets escorting the Thailand-bound Scoot plane back to Changi Airport on Thursday, after a passenger said he had a bomb on board. He was arrested for making the false claim. PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK

The flight landed without incident at 3.23pm.

The F-15SG aircrew said: "We perform operational standby duties on a regular basis. As a whole, the RSAF works with other national ministries and agencies to monitor the skies over Singapore and respond swiftly and decisively to potential air threats on a 24/7 basis."

The Scoot flight was carrying 173 passengers and six crew members.

The police said initial investigations revealed that a 41-year-old passenger on board had claimed to a member of the flight crew that he had a bomb in his carry-on baggage.

CARRYING OUT MISSION

Once we had successfully joined up with the Scoot plane, we established communications with the pilots through the assigned radio frequency, informing them that they were being escorted by the RSAF fighters and to comply with all our instructions. We also got the pilots' attention by flying close to the Scoot plane so that they could see us. We checked visually if there were any abnormal activities within the cockpit and the cabin. We then escorted the Scoot plane to land.

THE F-15SG AIRCREW, through the Defence Ministry.

The pilot then decided to turn the plane back to Singapore.

A thorough security search was carried out on board the plane. The baggage of the suspect and his two travelling companions was also examined. But no suspicious articles were found.

The passenger was arrested under Regulation 8(1) of the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Regulations, which states that it is an offence for a person to make false claims that a terrorist act has been, is being or will be carried out.

Those who are found guilty can be punished with a fine not exceeding $500,000 or with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or both.

The bogus bomb threat caused passengers in both Singapore and Hat Yai to experience delays.

Passengers on Flight TR634 bound for Hat Yai were finally able to depart again at about 6.30pm that day after the aircraft was declared safe, following the conclusion of investigations and associated procedures.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2018, with the headline 'Training prepared us for task, says RSAF crew'. Print Edition | Subscribe