- It sparked fears that fake air traffic controllers were trying to sabotage the plane.
Unidentified “hostile elements” reportedly attempted to hijack the communications of a passenger plane flying to Israel from Thailand last weekend, the second such attempt in the past week.
Israeli national airline El Al told local media that a flight from Phuket to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport on Saturday was threatened when outside actors attempted to divert the plane from its destination.
The pilots of El Al flight LY88, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, were told in a rogue radio message to deviate from their established route to an alternate course.
This raised fears that the fake air traffic controllers intended to sabotage the plane or cause it to land in a dangerous location.
The source of the communications breach reportedly traces back to the breakaway state of Somaliland, although El Al did not specify whether they were able to identify the group or actor responsible.
But the pilots ignored the message and were able to reestablish communications with Israeli air traffic control, which successfully guided the flight safely.
Israeli national airline El Al told local media that a flight from Phuket to Tel-Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport on Saturday was threatened when external actors attempted to divert the plane from its destination (FILE PHOTO: El Al Boeing 787 at Ben-Gurion airport)
El Al sought to allay concerns, telling Israeli outlet Ynet: “The disruptions are not directed at [El Al] airplanes and it is not a security incident; The interruption did not affect the continuation of the flight.’
But another outlet, KAN Reshet B, said another flight from the Thai capital, Bangkok, to Tel-Aviv suffered a similar cyberattack just a few days ago.
And the Jerusalem Post quoted an anonymous El Al employee as saying: ‘In Somalia, there have been communications disruptions all week, not just for El Al planes.
‘Official authorities have instructed all pilots that as soon as this happens with any frequency, do not listen to the instructions and switch to another method of communication.
“Our pilots are instructed on how to deal with this incident, such as the problematic frequency, and how to handle the flight professionally when it occurs,” the source said.