The pilot who caused a mass evacuation from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport by sounding the hijacking alarm on Wednesday was reportedly showing a trainee what to do if the plane was actually hijacked.
The unnamed Air Europa pilot typed the plane’s “hostage alert” code, 7500, into the transponder as they prepared to depart for Madrid. The pilot was showing the trainee “how everything works,” according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
The call prompted all 27 passengers onboard flight UX1094 and a large number of passengers in the terminals to be evacuated and saw the Royal Marechaussee, Dutch military police, investigate.
In a video published by De Telegraaf, the pilot on the flight can be heard apologizing for the delay caused by the alert, saying he “created a hijack alert.”
“I would like to apologize for the delay that we are having today. You can see that we made a mistake in the cockpit. We have created a hijack alarm. That’s what happened. I’m so sorry and I apologize for the delay again,” he said.
It is unclear when the pilot made the announcement.
The Spanish airline later announced there was nothing to worry about, and apologized.
“False Alarm. During the Amsterdam – Madrid flight this afternoon a warning that triggers protocols on hijackings at the airport was activated by mistake,” they tweeted.
“Nothing has happened, all passengers are safe and sound waiting to fly soon. We deeply apologize.”
—Air Europa (@AirEuropa) November 6, 2019
Passengers in the airport during the plane’s evacuation reported panic and “screaming” as police stormed the terminal in response.
“Nobody knows what is happened here, there was a lot of screaming going on and armed police running about,” one passenger told the Mail Online.
“It’s quite a frightening experience as we are behind a cordon unable to move for our own safety as police is everywhere,” they added.
Pictures from inside the terminal building showed large numbers of passengers massed during the hijacking scare:
—tom jessen 🚀 (@tomjessen) November 6, 2019
Schiphol is the third busiest airport in Europe, following London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle, and handles more than 70 million passengers annually.