Northwest plane rerouted after bomb threat

Justin Ware

While the airline industry waits for the federal government to come to terms on security measures, a flight bound for the Twin Cities on Thursday was forced to land in Detroit after a passenger discovered a bomb threat.

Northwest Airlines Flight 191 from Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., was bound for Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday morning before fighter jets escorted it to Detroit Metropolitan Airport in a suburb outside the city.

“The passenger was thumbing through the magazine pouch and read a note indicating that there was a bomb on the plane,” said FBI Special Agent Hank Glaspie.

Glaspie said a flight attendant brought the note to the captain who was instructed to land at the nearest airport.

FBI spokeswoman Maria Llompart said no bomb was found on the plane.

“We’re trying to figure out how the note got there,” Llompart said. “It appeared that the plane did not pose a threat.”

Glaspie said federal agencies were at the Detroit area airport interviewing the plane’s passengers and flight crew and conducting an investigation.

Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said the passengers were reaccommodated to other flights to the Twin Cities.

The fighter jet escort came from the Selfridge Air National Guard Base’s 107th Fighter Squadron in Michigan.

Major Barry Venable, a NORAD spokesman, said the Federal Aviation Administration decides if aircraft flying in U.S. airspace needs assistance.

House passes aviation security bill

The House passed an aviation security bill Thursday night that would allow the federal government to contract private security companies to safeguard U.S. airlines and airports.

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., attempted to model the bill after the Senate’s version – which passed unanimously last week – but the motion was denied and the bill passed, 286-139.

“The American people deserve tough security standards and the House plan delivers,” said President George W. Bush in a statement.

The president made calls last night to Democratic and Republican representatives, urging them to approve the Republican version, said Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., who did not support the House version.

McCollum, along with Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., said their constituents want federal law enforcement agents handling aviation security.

“I don’t want the safety of Minnesotans put out for bids,” Ramstad said. “Security should be a law enforcement function, not a lowest bid function.”

The Senate and House bills will go to conference committee this month, where the differences will be ironed out.

 

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Justin Ware welcomes comments at [email protected]