A JetBlue flight reportedly became unresponsive to tower communications while taxiing for departure at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City Tuesday evening, triggering a security scare.
Flight 1623 was scheduled to depart for Los Angeles at 7:30 p.m. ET, but stopped responding to air traffic control before takeoff.
The pilot had entered a hijack alert by mistake, which sent Port Authority Police Emergency Services unit aboard the plane, sources told The New York Daily News.
According to tweets from passengers, “heavily armed” police officers and FBI agents boarded the plane to investigate the security incident.
“I hate guns. They were pointing them, like, at us,” passenger Alexa Curtis told CBS Los Angeles. “It was traumatizing.”
She said some people feared they were experiencing a terrorist attack before takeoff.
“People were, like, crying. Everyone’s texting their family, and we were on ground, so usually this would happen in the air if it was gonna happen,” Curtis said. “People were ready to die.”
The FAA released a statement about the situation, saying the plane experienced a “radio equipment problem.”
“JetBlue 1623, an Airbus A320, experienced a radio equipment problem while taxing for departure at John F. Kennedy International Airport tonight at 8 p.m. The crew requested to return to the ramp. The FAA will investigate.”
The alert turned out to be a false alarm, Lenis Rodrigues, Port Authority spokeswoman told The Daily News.
“(The) aircraft was inspected and cleared with no security threat,” Rodrigues said.
By 8:15 p.m. local time, the tower reportedly reestablished radio contact with the crew of the plane.