A Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner was forced to divert to Fukuoka yesterday. The flight from Tokyo to Hanoi reportedly diverted after a threat to shoot the aircraft down was made via a phone call to the airline’s Japanese office. Thankfully, the aircraft landed without further incident despite the threat.
While terror threats to aircraft are rare, each one has to be taken incredibly seriously. Thankfully, most threats prove to be hoaxes, though when they do pan out, the implications can be catastrophic for the industry.
Vietnam Airlines 787 diverted
Yesterday, a Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-9 departed from Tokyo five minutes ahead of schedule, and soon after overflew Tokyo Bay, according to data from RadarBox.com. According to VN Express, the Japanese Vietnam Airlines office received a telephone threat around 40 minutes into the flight, long after it had passed Tokyo Bay.
According to the publication, the caller threatened,
“Flight VN5311 had better turn back to Narita or it will be shot down when passing Tokyo Bay. I am preparing to shoot VN5311 when it flies above Tokyo Bay. It had better turn around.”
Through coordination with the airline’s head office, the Vietnamese civil aviation authority, and its Japanese counterpart, it was decided that the aircraft would divert to a nearby airport as a precaution. As a result, the aircraft landed at Fukuoka at 13:05, after around two and a half hours in the sky. Since the incident, the aircraft has returned to service.
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Vietnam Airlines and the Boeing 787
The aircraft involved in the incident was VN-A868. According to ch-aviation.com, the aircraft is 5.43 years old. It first flew on August 2nd, 2016, and was then delivered on October 4th. ch-aviation lists the aircraft’s current value at $81.99 million.
The aircraft has 274 seats onboard, split between economy (211), premium economy (35), and business (28). According to VN Express, just 47 passengers were onboard, giving a load factor of 17%. They were accompanied by 12 flight attendants and three pilots.
VN-A868 is one of 11 Boeing 787-9s in the Vietnam Airlines fleet, all of which are listed as active. The airline has another four -10 Dreamliners, with four more set to be delivered by Boeing once deliveries resume. This will give a total fleet size of 19 Dreamliners once deliveries are complete.
The airline also uses the Airbus A350 for widebody operations, though its fleet is slightly smaller than its Boeing counterpart. Vietnam Airlines has taken delivery of 14 Airbus A350-900 aircraft. only nine of these are presently listed as active.
What do you make of the Vietnam Airlines incident? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!