Monday, 29 May 2023

Qantaslink 1737 Hijacking


QantasLink Flight 1737 was an Australian domestic flight from Melbourne's-Tullamarine Airport, VIC (MEL/YMML) to Launceston Airport, TAS (LST/YMLT) and was subject to an attempted hijacking on the 29th of May 2003.

The Boeing 717 left Melbourne Airport at 2.50 p.m. on the 29th of May. Around ten minutes after take-off, as the crew prepared for the onboard meal service, David Mark Robinson, a passenger seated in Row 7, became agitated, stood up and began to make his way down the aisle. Producing two sharpened wooden stakes from his pocket, Robinson stabbed flight attendant Denise Hickson and flight purser Greg Khan in the head on his way to the cabin galley. Khan tackled Robinson to unbalance him, eventually succeeding despite repeated blows to the back of the head from Robinson's stakes. Several passengers (including a Canadian paramedic, Derek Finlay) helped restrain Robinson, holding him down and tying him up with materials found on board.

The plane immediately turned back to Melbourne, where Robinson was placed under arrest by Australian Federal Police. He was also found to be carrying aerosol cans and cigarette lighters, presumably to use as a flamethrower.

Khan and Hickson were taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital for treatment, and a passenger who received minor lacerations was treated at the airport by paramedics.

Despite numerous security improvements following the September 11, attacks, Flight 1737 lacked certain security arrangements. The door to the flightdeck had not been adapted to completely block access from the outside, and there was no sky marshal on board.

Qantas undertook a full security review following the incident and promised to secure the flightdeck doors on all of their aircraft by the 1st of November. The airline dismissed the suggestion of armed sky marshals on each flight as too expensive, and a full body search of passengers to detect wooden objects as unfeasible.

Qantas also made a training video regarding the incident; the crew involved were interviewed and this is shown during security training. Khan also speaks of how a passenger complained that the aircraft was returning to Melbourne, even though two crew members had suffered serious injuries and an attempt to hijack the aircraft had just occurred. Khan and other crew also report the amount of blood stains throughout the aircraft as a result of the injuries.

Since this incident, all Boeing 717 aircraft operated by Qantaslink have been fitted with cameras and the flight deck door is bullet proof.

Aircraft Information:
Airline: Qantaslink
Code: QF/QFA
Aircraft: Boeing 717-231
Registration: VH-VQI
Serial Number: 55095
Engines: 2 x BMW RR BR715
First Flew: 7/11/2011
Age: 21 Yrs. 6 Mts

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