Following the arrest of an American male suspect for making a bomb threat onboard Singapore Airlines Flight SQ 33 from San Francisco to Singapore, the 37-year-old suspect has since been handed several charges and denied bail after being assessed as a flight risk and extreme danger to the public.
A recap of the incident
The eventful flight happened on September 28th onboard Singapore Airlines Flight SQ 33, which was 12 hours into the nearly 17-hour flight. Operating the flight was one of the airline’s several Airbus A350-900s registered as 9V-SMW. As the routine flight was nearing home, the 37-year-old suspect allegedly grabbed another passenger’s luggage from the overhead compartment and made a bomb threat.
Things quickly became tense and violent after the suspect assaulted a cabin crew member who tried to restrain him. And following the advice of a bomb threat, fighter jets from the Singapore Air Force escorted SQ 33 into Singapore’s Changi International Airport as a standard precaution. Upon landing at Changi Airport, security checks undertaken by the Singapore Army found the bomb threat to be a hoax.
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Remanded for everyone’s safety
Following the fortunate conclusion of these checks, the suspect was apprehended and transported to the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric assessments. Through his assessments, the psychiatrist found that the accused had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia and a history of consuming cannabis, which can further aggravate his violent symptoms.
With this overview of the accused, Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim Ying Min requested a denial of bail, citing reasons highlighting how the accused would pose a significant threat to himself and others. Min emphasized:
“The stressors of being in a foreign country, coupled with the fact that he has no fixed accommodations and no one to monitor his medication compliance. Both are extreme risk factors for relapse. And should the accused gain access to drugs, it will only elevate his risk for relapse. Having the accused remanded is also in the interest of his safety.”
Furthermore, Min highlighted that the suspect is an American citizen with no permanent resident status nor ties in Singapore, such as employment or residential property, making him a crucial flight risk. Eventually, the District Judge approved of the Deputy Public Prosecutor’s reasonings, and no bail was offered to the suspect. If found guilty at sentencing, the suspect could face a heavy fine not exceeding S$100,000 ($70,131), a prison sentence of not more than five years, or both.
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
Singapore is no stranger to aviation threats
Unfortunately, the incident of SQ 33 was neither the flag carrier’s nor Singapore’s first experience with bomb threats. As recently as 2019, there were two incidences of bomb threats, including SQ 423 from Mumbai in March and Scoot Flight TR 385 from Cebu in June. Fighter jets were also deployed to escort these flights back to Changi Airport.
And perhaps even more unfortunate is that the incident of SQ 33 joins the alarmingly growing list of aviation bomb threats for this year alone. From July to October, there were already at least ten reported bomb threats worldwide, including SQ 33. International carriers such as Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeroflot, IndiGo, UPS, and Jet2 were some of those affected.
While it is good that all aviation bomb threats have been hoaxes, it brings about severe disruptions to otherwise normal flight operations. It also proves to be an inconvenience for hundreds of passengers, causing unnecessary stress and potential trauma, especially if children are involved in the flight.
Source: Aviation Source
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Singapore Changi Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Goh Choon Phong
Singapore Changi Airport
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Lee Seow Hiang
- Passenger Count :
- 3,053,000 (2021)
- Runways :
- 02L/20R – 4,000m (13,123ft) |02C/20C – 4,000m (13,123ft) |02R/20L – 4,000m (13,123ft)
- Terminal 1 |Terminal 2 |Terminal 3 |Terminal 4 |JetQuay CIP Terminal