A JetBlue flight out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) triggered a significant security response after it lost radio contact with the tower while taxiing for takeoff at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday night. “Shortly before departure, Flight 1623 from New York JFK to Los Angeles experienced a radio issue impacting the crew’s ability to communicate and a false alarm was sent to JFK tower,” a statement from JetBlue spokesperson Paula Acevedo said. Some sources have reported that the crew entered the transponder code signaling a hijacking (7500) instead of the code for a communications failure (7600).
According to several passengers, the Airbus A321 was quickly surrounded by emergency vehicles and “heavily armed” law enforcement personnel boarded the aircraft. “While communication was re-established via alternate channels, authorities responded in an abundance of caution,” the JetBlue statement continued. “The aircraft was cleared and returned to the gate for inspection.” The crew was reportedly back in contact with authorities by 8:15.
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey also issued a statement saying that the aircraft had been inspected and cleared with no security threat. Passengers were able to depart for Los Angeles several hours later via another aircraft. The FAA has said it will investigate the incident.