A flight from Israel to Turkey was canceled just before takeoff after passengers received some unsettling photos on their phones.
As reported by Israel’s Kan News, the passengers were scheduled to travel from Israel to Turkey, but the pilot turned back to the terminal due to mass panic.
One passenger who spoke to Kan News said several passengers received AirDrop requests as the plane began taxiing on the runway. Almost immediately, flight attendants asked who had received the photos, and the plane came to a halt.
What could possibly have been AirDropped to these passengers to cause such concern?
According to Galei Zahal, a local radio host, 166 people accepted the AirDrop which contained photos of two wrecks. The first was of a Turkish Airline plane that crashed in Amsterdam in 2009, the second was of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crashed in San Francisco in 2013.
Nine suspects, described by police as Israeli citizens, were taken off the airplane before takeoff. They could be charged with disseminating false information, which carries a maximum three-year jail sentence in Israel.
“The nine … are suspected of broadcasting images of an air disaster on the plane, causing panic and delaying the plane’s departure by several hours,” police said in a statement.
What is AirDrop?
Using Bluetooth, AirDrop creates a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network that lets MacOS and iOS devices share files wirelessly.
There is no need for the parties to be connected to the internet or a router, they simply need to enable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on their device.
The maximum distance two devices can be apart and still AirDrop files is about 10 metres or 30 feet, meaning whoever sent the disturbing images had to be on the plane at the time.
How secure are Israeli airports?
Israeli is home to some of the world’s most secure airports.
At Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, all vehicles must pass through security checkpoints upon arrival. Armed guards search the vehicle and conduct a short interview with the driver and occupants.
Any suspicious persons will be subjected to more thorough security checks. This may involve scanning the vehicle’s undercarriage or further questioning of the driver and occupants.
Upon entering the terminal, passengers need to pass another security checkpoint.
After checking in, passengers encounter metal detectors, luggage screening, and an X-Ray machine for carry-on baggage. Security personnel then re-inspect the passenger’s passport and boarding pass.
Those found to be suspicious (i.e. those who have recently visited an Arab country) are flagged for additional airport security checks.
Then, and only then, may passengers make their way to the Aroma Espresso Bar to pick up a few $27 tuna sandwiches.