Flights Grounded By Fake Threats

After Air China’s grounding of a flight due to a threat, another Chinese commercial airliner had to change its course because of a fake threat, from The Wall Street Journal:

For the second day in a row, a Chinese commercial airliner has been forced to alter its flight plan after receiving a false threat, prompting nervous chatter online as well as complaints about a lack of information from authorities.

“You can expect this sort of situation to happen more and more in the future,” wrote one user of Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblogging service posting under the handle Words of Autumn Rain. “A lot of people are dissatisfied with society and feel the need to vent.”

Air China won praise from many for its candor after it announced the decision to bring CA981 back to Beijing on its official feed on Sina Weibo. But a paucity of new information about the threats since then has created a vacuum online that China’s social media users have filled with a mixture of complaint and conspiracy theory.

“Why don’t they publicize the nature of the threat?” asked one microblogger after the second flight was forced to land early. “Instead they just let everyone’s imaginations run away with them.”

According to The Associated Press, the man suspected of phoning in the fake threat has been detained:

Chinese police say they have detained a man suspected of phoning an airport with a false bomb threat that grounded a domestic flight.

The Hubei provincial public security department says Xiong Yi was caught at a hotel in the southern city of Dongguan.

It said in a statement late Saturday that Xiong confessed that he made a phone call to an airport in nearby Shenzhen on Thursday claiming that explosives had been placed on a plane that was bound for Shenzhen.

While no explosives were found on the plane, Xinhua reports on the effects of fake bomb threats:

Xiong’s deeds endangered public security and caused serious consequences, which wasted a lot of social resources and caused losses to passengers, airlines and airports, said Chen Yong, one of the team leaders investigating Xiong’s case.

“It was quite an unexpected experience for me, with the announcement of the ‘possibility of explosives on the plane’,” said Peng Ruojie, a passenger on the ZH9706 flight, on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

In fact, China has seen a rising number of “pranks to threaten the aviation safety” in various forms, such as phone calls, messages or even jokes in recent years.

Some of China’s recent plane-bomb threats have come from people who did not realize the seriousness of their law-breaking, while some other cases have come from those people in some way seeking revenge on society, according to Feng Guilin, a researcher with the Hubei Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.


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