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Passenger’s Bomb Remark Grounds Jet at Burbank Airport

Times Staff Writer

About 140 people were evacuated Friday from a jet at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport and the flight was canceled after a passenger made a remark about a bomb as the plane was taxiing for takeoff, officials said.

Airline officials said the man who made the comment apparently was speaking in jest to friends, but the crew of Southwest Flight 2074, en route to Las Vegas, and police took no chances.

A flight attendant who overheard passengers talking about the remark told the cockpit crew about 3:45 p.m. as the plane taxied north on Taxiway A, which is parallel to the airport’s north-south runway. The pilot immediately shut down the Boeing 737’s two engines and radioed officials at the airport. Police surrounded the plane in seconds.

At least one man was placed under arrest, and several other people were questioned, said Victor Gill, a spokesman for the airport. They were not immediately identified.

Portable stairways were rolled to the plane and the rest of the passengers got off, boarding airport buses that took them to the terminal.

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Explosives experts were brought in by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter. The plane remained on the taxiway for several hours as law enforcement personnel searched the jet and its contents, including all the passengers’ baggage.

No explosives were found.

An alternate taxiway was used by other aircraft while the search was underway, and Gill said the airport’s flight schedule was disrupted only momentarily.

Under federal law, anyone who jests about bombs or other dangerous devices while on a jetliner is subject to arrest and possible felony charges. Conviction can lead to up to five years in prison.


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