Northwest A-320/ Air Force F-16s


Jan 20, 2003
UPDATE - Northwest jet lands under watch of U.S. fighters
Thursday February 6, 3:31 pm ET
(Updates with comments by FBI, NORAD and other sources)
BALTIMORE, Feb 6 (Reuters) - A Northwest Airlines (NasdaqNM:NWAC - News) jet landed near Baltimore under the watchful gaze of two U.S. Air Force F-16 fighters on Thursday, after crew members reported suspicious behavior among the 48 passengers on board, officials said.

Three passengers from Northwest''s Detroit-to-Baltimore Flight 1134 were led away by federal authorities after the Airbus A320 landed safely at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 8:19 a.m. EST (1319 GMT). The detained passengers were later released without being charged with any wrongdoing.
Officials declined to say what prompted the plane''s five-member crew to issue a security alert while the aircraft was still about 10 minutes away from landing.
But knowledgeable sources said the three passengers were observed moving their seats forward in the cabin as the jet approached the airport, possibly in hopes of making a quick exit when the aircraft reached the gate.
Two individuals alerted the flight crew to suspicious behavior among their fellow passengers, and the crew took appropriate action, Northwest spokeswoman Mary Beth Schubert said.
Federal authorities scrambled two F-16s from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland at 7:55 a.m. EST (1255 GMT) to establish a circular combat air patrol between Baltimore and Washington. But the fighters never approached the commercial jetliner.
They were in visual range of the aircraft and monitored the aircraft until it landed, said Air Force Maj. Ed Thomas of the bi-national North American Aerospace Defense Command, which encompasses both the U.S. and Canadian military.
Earlier, Northwest Airlines said fighter aircraft had escorted the jetliner to the airport.
The Northwest aircraft taxied up to a group of waiting federal agents at a secluded area of the airport facility, located about 12 miles (19 km) south of Baltimore.
Nothing came of it, said FBI special agent Barry Maddox. We interviewed them. We did the backgrounds on them. Everything checked out, and they''ve been released. No charges were placed.
Because of the heightened sense of awareness about security, this is something that will happen, and we''ll respond when we''re called. That''s what happened here, he added.
The plane later resumed its regular flight schedule by returning to Detroit.