Passenger Says Cessna's F-16 Intercept Launched By "Lies"

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Pay your bribes in Thailand, or else. That's the message being broadcast by an Australian who says he witnessed bribes being asked of his pilot by two Thai individuals. The next day, the Cessna 208 he was aboard was intercepted by two Singaporean F-16 fighters. Presently, the Cessna's pilot (another Australian) is facing a potential trial in Singapore and a maximum penalty of one year in jail, plus a $3,900 fine. The Australian says his companion purchased the Cessna in Thailand, was asked for bribes and refused to pay. The next day, while flying the aircraft on a test flight in Thailand, he says the aircraft developed a landing gear problem. The Cessna's pilot (currently being held in Singapore) then requested a flight plan to an alternate airport in Singapore, according to his travel companion. Granted permission by radio, the information apparently was not transferred to Singaporean authorities who instead heard the aircraft was stolen, not registered, and had left Thai airspace under suspicious circumstances, according to the pilot's companion. The Cessna was then escorted to land at Changi Airport, Singapore, where commercial airspace was closed for 50 minutes as the drama played out.

The Cessna's pilot has been charged with flying an aircraft without a certificate of airworthiness. His potential jail time and fine are yet to be determined.