Firsthand Account Of Ethiopian Airlines Hijacking

Yesterday I posted about the crazy story of the Ethiopian Airlines 767 that was hijacked by the co-pilot and flown for six hours before it was finally diverted to Geneva, where the co-pilot was seeking amnesty.

Anyway, a Reddit user posted their firsthand account of the flight:

The plane was hijacked one hour after take-off. This is how it went down.

After entering the plane, I went to my seat: economy class, window-side and next to the right wing. As it was around midnight, I quickly fell asleep during take-off. I was waken up an hour later due to the sound of all the oxygen mask going down. I immediatly thought « what the… » I looked at my neighbor, she seemed as confused at me: the plane was not behaving oddly so I thought it was a simple technical glitch or somebody pressed the wrong button. Everybody looked at each other, thinking what’s going on. Suddenly, a deep and angry voice talked through the cabin radio: “SIT DOWN, PUT YOUR MASKS ON, I’M CUTTING THE OXYGEN”, three times. At this point, I realized that the situation is serious: someone is in the pilot cabin and has hijacked the plane. Within a few seconds, the oxygen went down in the cabin: I felt very lightheaded and quickly decided to put on the oxygen mask like the rest of the passengers. Quickly after that, the plane suddenly started dropping down for about 8 seconds then went fast back up, then finally stablized. People were crying, yelling, praying. I was in complete panic. Cold. We were then waiting for an update, an information, what was going on. But it never came. We flew for 6 more hours, knowing only that a pirate was at command. Who was he, what was his intentions ? I started thinking, too far. For he was probably alone, he couldn’t possibly be planning to land at an airport, he would immediatly get caught. So I quickly took away the possibilty of landing safely. As I was looking throught the window, all I could see was dark. Dark up, dark down.

Check out the entire firsthand account.

I just can’t even imagine what that must have been like as a passenger.

So do we know yet what the captain was doing for six hours while locked out of the cockpit? That has to be an even more hopeless feeling than what the passengers were going through…

Filed Under: Misc.
  1. Does ‘turning off the oxygen’ really produce noticeable lightheadedness in a matter of seconds?! It doesn’t seem like the oxygen in the air should be used up and/or the plane should de-pressurize anywhere near that fast.

  2. I understand they made the cabin door with a new design that can only be opened from inside but I can’t imagine there is no way to open it from outside in emergency cases like this.

  3. @ Lucky – apparently, captain was outside the cockpit door trying to talk sense into the copilot.

    I suggest reading Reddit thread which includes updates from the unfortunate passenger.

    P.S. FYI, turning off oxygen was an idle threat as those generators run for a very brief period of time.

  4. Some earlier reports said the captain tried to break into the cockpit but, of course, the reinforced door kept him out.

    I’ve seen some aircraft where a cabin crew member goes into the cockpit when one of the pilots gets out (presumably to open the door in a situation where the remaining pilot has a problem, but would also defend against this situation). Wonder if this is just not SOP for ET or if there was a miss on procedure.

  5. @Keith’s comment is spot on – can’t understand how that is not SOP everywhere if there is no way to enter from outside? Probably will be from now on though…

  6. Besides a new 787 that caught fire in LHR, this airline is basically nil to me.

    I have no desire to fly this or any African airline any time soon. To Africa, either BA or LH, no exceptions ( sorry AF )

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