Mahan Air A340 Receives Bomb Threat Over India

Mahan Air A340 Receives Bomb Threat Over India

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Mahan Air, Iran’s largest private airline, received a bomb threat on a flight today, causing some chaos in the skies over India…

Iran to China flight gets bomb threat over India

Today (Monday, October 3, 2022), Mahan Air flight W581 was scheduled to operate from Tehran (IKA) to Guangzhou (CAN). The flight was operated by a nearly 18 year old Airbus A340-600 with the registration code EP-MMR.

While a tangent, due to sanctions against Iran, you’ve gotta love the interesting history of all of Mahan Air’s planes. This particular Airbus A340-600 flew for Virgin Atlantic through 2014, and still has the original Virgin Atlantic interiors. Anyway…

While over Indian airspace, roughly halfway through the ~3,800 mile journey, a bomb threat came in for this Mahan Air flight. At that point the Indian Air Force (IAF) dispatched fighter jets, to follow the plane at a distance. According to a statement from the IAF:

“IAF fighter aircraft were scrambled, which followed the aircraft at a safe distance. The aircraft was offered the option to land at Jaipur & then, at Chandigarh.”

The Mahan Air pilots allegedly asked to divert to New Delhi (DEL), but were denied. That was possibly because authorities didn’t want operations at a major airport to be impacted. Instead the Mahan Air jet was offered a diversion to Jaipur (JAI) or Chandigarh (IXC), which was rejected. Nonetheless the Mahan Air jet did enter a holding pattern not far from New Delhi.

Flight path for Mahan Air Tehran to Guangzhou flight
Flight path for Mahan Air Tehran to Guangzhou flight

Eventually authorities in Tehran told Indian officials to ignore the bomb scare, at which point the flight continued on its way. The fighter jets followed the A340 until it left Indian airspace.

When the plane did land in Guangzhou, it seems that authorities there also knew of the bomb threat, so the plane had quite a welcoming committe.

Should airplane bomb threats be taken seriously?

I’m just throwing this out there for discussion. I feel like we hear about airplane bomb threats on a weekly basis, and sometimes even more often.

In some cases we’ve seen bomb threats called in because someone was running late for their flight, in some cases we’ve seen bomb threats called in because someone had an ex-girlfriend on a flight, etc. This consistently causes huge inconvenience, and a ton of money to be wasted (like having fighter jets scrambled).

Here’s my question — when is the last time an airplane bomb threat was determined to be accurate? If someone wanted to actually blow up a plane, they wouldn’t call in a bomb threat. Sure, in theory this could be used as a bargaining technique, but even that isn’t something we’ve seen in a long time.

What has come from airplane bomb threats? Well, last year we did see a fake bomb threat that lead to Belarus arresting an opponent of the government, but that’s about it.

Bottom line

A Mahan Air Airbus A340-600 flying from Iran to China received a bomb threat over Indian airspace, leading to fighter jets being dispatched. The plane entered a holding pattern near New Delhi — while pilots requested a diversion there, they were rejected, and were given two alternative airports. The pilots weren’t happy with those alternatives.

Eventually authorities in Iran decided the bomb threat was fake, at which point the plane continued on its way.

What do you make of this Mahan Air bomb scare?

Conversations (10)
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  1. Emily Guest

    Not surprised that authorities in DEL did not allow the plane to divert to the national capital. I am surprised that the IAF did not force the aircraft to land.

  2. Sean M. Diamond

    Threats against aircraft come in many forms, not just the hollywood style "there's a bomb on the bus" phonecall. A vast majority of these are not publicized, often not even to the frontline personnel who may be managing the flight(s) in question. Only if a threat is deemed credible (or at least not entirely non-credible) is it escalated to the point that a crew in-flight is made aware of the threat. If this threat originated...

    Threats against aircraft come in many forms, not just the hollywood style "there's a bomb on the bus" phonecall. A vast majority of these are not publicized, often not even to the frontline personnel who may be managing the flight(s) in question. Only if a threat is deemed credible (or at least not entirely non-credible) is it escalated to the point that a crew in-flight is made aware of the threat. If this threat originated external to the aircraft and was relayed to them through whatever channels, it can safely be assumed that there was already some level of credibility associated with it.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      If you assume there was already some credibility.
      Yet the pilot refuses to divert?

      Then there is all the 'welcoming committe' (sic) in CAN but China lets it fly all the way from the border?

      It seems everyone is taking a half hoax half serious approach.

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      Credibility is a subjective assessment that can change as more information comes to light. What was credible at the time of relaying the message may not have been so at the time the decision was made to continue.

    3. John Guest

      When @Eskimoo said 'CAN' did you feel a tingle of excitement? Acronyms are hot!

  3. Martin Guest

    This airline is always involved in sketchy things. Look at the embargoed aircraft in Argentina that was allegedly sold to Conviasa by them: sketchy flight plans, unscheduled diversions, sketchy crew (19 people to take cargo, including Iranian pilots with alleged links to terrorist groups), sketchy maneuvers (such as covert flights). I wouldn’t want this company flying my airspace.

  4. KD Guest

    Wonder if the plane still has the Virgin bar??

    1. Indopithecus Guest

      You are pathetic.

    2. Dude26 Guest

      Better. It has the new '72 virgins bar' LOL

  5. ML Guest

    Following your reasoning, even on the off chance the threat is legitimate, what is there to gain by diverting as opposed to continuing to the intended destination and landing there?

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Sean M. Diamond

Threats against aircraft come in many forms, not just the hollywood style "there's a bomb on the bus" phonecall. A vast majority of these are not publicized, often not even to the frontline personnel who may be managing the flight(s) in question. Only if a threat is deemed credible (or at least not entirely non-credible) is it escalated to the point that a crew in-flight is made aware of the threat. If this threat originated external to the aircraft and was relayed to them through whatever channels, it can safely be assumed that there was already some level of credibility associated with it.

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ML Guest

Following your reasoning, even on the off chance the threat is legitimate, what is there to gain by diverting as opposed to continuing to the intended destination and landing there?

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Emily Guest

Not surprised that authorities in DEL did not allow the plane to divert to the national capital. I am surprised that the IAF did not force the aircraft to land.

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