An internal memo obtained by security experts at the U.S. Airline Pilots Association reportedly details a “dry run” by terrorists just last month during a flight from Washington to Orlando.
Several “Middle Eastern men” caused a commotion and appeared to be conducting a test run to gauge procedure and reaction to an in-flight threat during an incident aboard US Airways Flight 1880 from Reagan National Airport to Orlando International Airport on Sept. 2, according to the U.S. Airline Pilots Association security memo, first obtained by 10 News in Tampa, Fla.
“They are trying to pull out air marshals if they are on board, or law enforcement if they are on board,” an unidentified federal air marshal told the station. “They are looking for how the crew reacts.”
U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., has since called for an investigation into the “suspicious” incident.
“It is government’s obligation and responsibility to remain vigilant,” the statement read. “While the specifics of the US Air incident are not public, federal authorities must review the matter.”
Experts said the incident could be an indication of another attempt to detonate a bomb aboard an airplane while midflight. Ret. Col. Mike Pheneger, former director of intelligence at Special Operations Command, said it’s “impossible” to absolutely prevent terrorist attacks.
“We can only make it more difficult for people to attack an airplane or a facility,” he said. “We can’t make it impossible. We have to be lucky 100 percent of the time and they only have to be lucky once.”
Despite the constant threat, Pheneger said the odds of being on a plane taken over by terrorists are slim.
“But somebody is eventually going to be unlucky, and that will happen,” he said. “And I’m surprised quite frankly it hasn’t.”
Four passengers aboard the flight were detained by local law enforcement authorities upon arrival in Orlando due to suspicious behavior during the flight, according to a statement by Michelle Mohr, a spokeswoman for US Airways.
“TSA performed a full security sweep of the aircraft before it departed for its next scheduled flight,” the statement read. “The aircraft was cleared, and it departed on a slight delay as a result of the additional security precautions taken by US Airways and the TSA.”
Federal authorities also downplayed the incident, saying it required no additional investigation.