SINGAPORE: It was "calm" on board Scoot flight TR634 even as it was being escorted back to Changi Airport by fighter jets over a false bomb threat, an eyewitness told Channel NewsAsia on Friday (Apr 6).
The plane had been en route to Hatyai in Thailand on Thursday when the pilot raised a bomb threat alert, triggering two F-15SG planes to be deployed "within minutes", said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.
"The F-15SG pilots closely escorted the Scoot plane from the South China Sea to land safely back at Changi Airport," he added.
The passenger plane took off at 1.20pm and landed back at Changi Airport at about 3.25pm, said Scoot.
Authorities later said the alleged bomb threat had been made by a passenger. A 41-year-old man was arrested. He and two others are assisting police with investigations, they added.
The eyewitness, who declined to be named, said no in-flight announcements were made about the incident.
"The atmosphere was calm," said the man, who was one of the 173 passengers on board. "Most people were amused and looking out the window at the fighter jets. They actually found it interesting.
"My thoughts were perhaps there had been radio failure and that pilots could not keep in contact with the air traffic control or that they unknowingly deviated from the flight path. But there were no answers from any of the pilots or cabin crew."
The eyewitness said passengers only found out what happened when they were "on the ground and saw the news", adding "even then, the pilots said nothing. They told us the story after the whole thing was over, but by then everyone already knew".
According to this account, several passengers opted not to continue travelling to Hatyai.
"They were afraid to fly for the day, perhaps," said the eyewitness.