Plane bomb scare a hoax

Last updated at 14:07 15 April 2006

A bomb scare which diverted a plane to Prestwick airport was a hoax, police have confirmed.

The security alert was raised on the flight from Luton to Galway after a note was found that claimed a bomb was on board.

Staff on the Dublin-based airline Aer Arann plane contacted the authorities around 10.30pm last night, shortly after take-off, police said.

Flight RE 508 was then escorted by two RAF Tornado fighters and touched down at the airport near Glasgow just before 11pm.

It is the second flight in three days to be diverted to Prestwick. A Ryanair flight from Paris to Dublin stopped off in similar circumstances.

The Luton-Galway plane's 53 passengers and crew disembarked safely from the aircraft and were kept in the airport terminal while a bomb disposal unit searched the plane.

Strathclyde Police later confirmed that nothing was found.

A police spokesman said: "The plane has been searched and the result is negative.

"We cannot at this stage give any details as to the nature of the note. Investigations are continuing."

He said that the flight would not leave until later today, with the passengers and crew provided with hotel accommodation.

"The pilot said he could not leave overnight as he was over the limit on the number of hours that he could fly," he said.

"The flight will leave later today but no time has been fixed yet."

More than 170 passengers and crew were onboard the Ryanair flight on Wednesday when a note was found in an in-flight magazine warning that a bomb was on board the aircraft.

The captain alerted air traffic control and the plane was escorted to safety by air force jets.

No bomb was discovered but angry travellers slammed officials for forcing them to remain on the aircraft for two hours while it was searched row by row.

It is understood that the passengers on the Aer Arann flight were moved quicker from the aircraft.

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