Israel to Turkey flight aborted as passengers receive crashed aircraft images

A Turkish AnadoluJet Boeing 737 take-off from Israel was aborted after passengers received disturbing crashed aircraft pictures on their mobile phones

Alarmed passengers on flight TK7709 from Ben Gurion International Airport to Istanbul, informed cabin crew on yesterday’s morning flight and the captain decided to return the aircraft to the hub, Israel’s aviation authority reported.

Security teams checked passengers and all luggage before the flight resumed to arrive more than five-and-a-half hours late at Sabina Gökçen International Airport. Nine of the 160 passenger on board were removed and could face prosecution for what appears to have been an ill-judged prank.

Track of the turnaround for AnadoluJet  flight TK7709 from Israel to Turkey
Track of the turnaround for AnadoluJet flight TK7709 from Israel to Turkey Flightradar24

The flight, originally scheduled to depart at 10.55am eventually took to the skies at 4.39pm and arrived at 6.24pm rather than 12.50pm, according to FlightRadar24. Within minutes into its taxi, the 737 was turned back to stand E3G of Pier E.

Airports authority spokesman Ofer Lefler told the Jerusalem Post the nine suspects were Israeli citizens, according to the police, but it the incident was not a cyber-attack. They could face prosecution for disseminating false information – an offence that carries a maximum three-year prison term in Israel.

Israeli media outlets reported that the images were shared via AirDrop, an Apple service that enables users to send files from one Apple device to another across short distances. All the images were received on iPhones, it said.

The pictures included images of a Turkish Airlines – the parent company of AnadoluJet – aircraft that crashed in the Netherlands in 2009, and another airframe crash in the United States in 2013.

One passenger said panic broke out as the images were shared, with one person fainting and another experiencing a panic attack.