Two men were arrested at Stansted Airport on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft today after an RAF Typhoon jet was scrambled to escort a passenger plane travelling from Pakistan to Manchester Airport.
The Pakistan International Airlines plane was flying from Lahore, Pakistan, to Manchester when it was diverted to the Essex airport. It landed at approximately 2.20pm.
The incident is not thought to be terrorism-related at this stage, it is understood.
It is thought to have happened about 10 minutes before the plane, flight number PK709, was due to land in Manchester at 2pm.
An Essex Police spokesman said: “The plane has landed. We and our partner agencies are at the scene and dealing with the situation.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “A Typhoon aircraft has been launched to investigate an incident involving a civilian aircraft within UK airspace.”
He added that the Typhoon is from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
The very same plane on the very same flight - from Lahore to Manchester - had been diverted to Stansted on September 7 2011 due to a bomb scare.
Today’s flight had left Lahore at 9.35am local time and was thought to have been carrying 297 passengers.
An MoD spokesman said the incident was now a police matter and “our involvement is over”.
He said Typhoon jets can be scrambled after the pilot or crew of a passenger aircraft sends out an emergency signal.
“The purpose of going up is to investigate what the situation is,” he said. “Often when a Quick Reaction Alert aircraft is launched the details are not known, but it is known that a signal has been sent.
“Part of the purpose of sending a Typhoon up is to have a look and see what they can see.”
Mahmouda Aslam, 50, from Prestwich, Manchester was at the airport awaiting her husband, Mohammed on the flight.
After speaking to her husband on his mobile, she said: “I said, ‘Are you alright? Are you scared?’ He said, ‘We are all OK. The flight is full of police.”
A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft which was due to land at Manchester Airport at 1.30pm today has been diverted to our sister airport London Stansted, where the authorities are investigating.
“The plane - flight number PK709 - was travelling from Lahore and had 297 passengers on board. For further information for friends or family who were due to meet the flight at Manchester please call 0800 140 4007.
A spokesman for Stansted Airport said passengers were being taken off the plane.
“They will be taken to a reception centre on the airport where police may wish to interview them about what they have seen.
“At some point police and the airline will arrange for their onward transportation to Manchester.”