F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Italian F-16 scrambled to excort Excel Airways 767 after bomb threat

August 18, 2006 (by ) - A British passenger plane to Egypt diverted to a southern Italian airport Friday after the pilot reported that a bomb was suspected to be on board, Italian aviation officials said.

An Italian F-16A ADF blasting trough the sky

Authorities searching the plane found a handwritten note in English that said there was a bomb on the plane, Salvatore De Paolis, a spokesman for border police at the airport, told SKY TG 24 television news.

All 280 passengers were safe and had exited the plane, state police at the airport said.

The Excel Airways Boeing 767 requested an emergency landing in Brindisi because of what was described as a suspected bomb, the Italian air traffic agency ENAV said.

The plane was flying from London's Gatwick airport to Hurghada, Egypt, ENAV said.

Italy's Air Force said it had sent an F-16 to intercept the plane before it landed.

Excel spokeswoman Jane Sebuliba said the landing was "a precautionary diversion" and declined further comment, saying Excel planned to say more soon.

There has been a series of aviation-related terror alerts and scares in the wake of British authorities' announcement last week that they had foiled a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights with liquid explosives.