Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702
ET-AMF, the aircraft involved in the incident, photographed in 2011
|Date||17 February 2014|
|Summary||Hijacked by co-pilot|
|Site||Hijacked over Sudan, forced to land at Geneva|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 767-3BGER|
|IATA flight No.||ET702|
|ICAO flight No.||ETH702|
|Call sign||ETHIOPIAN 702|
|Flight origin||Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, Ethiopia|
|Stopover||Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, Italy|
|Destination||Malpensa Airport, Italy|
|Crew||9 (including the hijacker)|
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 was a scheduled flight from Addis Ababa to Milan via Rome on 17 February 2014. The aircraft, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER, was hijacked by the unarmed co-pilot, Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn, en route from Addis Ababa to Rome, and landed at Geneva. All 202 passengers and crew were unharmed. Hailemedhin[note 1] was arrested by the Swiss authorities, and after being convicted in absentia by an Ethiopian court, was granted asylum in Switzerland in May 2016.
Flight 702 was scheduled to depart from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at 00:30 EAT (UTC+3) on 17 February 2014. The aircraft's transponder began to emit squawk 7500 — the international code for an aircraft hijacking — while flying north over Sudan. When the pilot exited the cockpit to use the restroom, the co-pilot locked the cockpit door and continued to fly the aircraft.
The flight was scheduled to arrive at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, at 04:40 CET (UTC+1), before continuing to Malpensa Airport in Milan, Italy. Instead, the aircraft was flown to Geneva, Switzerland, where the co-pilot circled several times while communicating with air traffic control at Geneva International Airport while trying to negotiate political asylum for himself and an assurance that he would not be extradited to Ethiopia.
The co-pilot exited the aircraft by scaling down a rope he threw out of the cockpit window before walking over to police; he surrendered after identifying himself as the hijacker, and was taken into custody. The airport was briefly shut down during the incident; no passengers or crew were injured.
The flight was escorted by Italian Eurofighter and French Mirage fighter jets while traversing their respective airspaces. The Swiss Air Force did not respond because the incident occurred outside normal office hours, which are 08:00–12:00 and 13:30–17:00 Monday to Friday; a Swiss Air Force spokesman stated: "Switzerland cannot intervene because its airbases are closed at night and on the weekend. It's a question of budget and staffing." Switzerland relies on neighboring countries to police its airspace outside of regular business hours; the French and Italian Air Forces has permission to escort suspicious flights into Swiss airspace, but does not have authority to shoot down an aircraft over Switzerland.
The hijacker of Flight 702 was Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn, 31, who was the co-pilot of flight 702.
In May 2014, the Swiss government declined a request by the Ethiopian government to extradite Hailemedhin to Ethiopia. Swiss authorities initially said that Hailemedhin would face trial in Switzerland. However, in November 2015, the Swiss public prosecutor determined that Hailemedhin (who had been detained in Switzerland ever since his arrest) would not be prosecuted after a panel of experts "unanimously decided that [Hailemedhin] was in a state of complete paranoia" during the hijacking and was incapable of rational thinking. Hailemedhin was then set to appear before a Swiss federal court, which would order the pilot to undergo mental health treatment.
Swiss Air Force
As a consequence, a 24-hour readiness of armed fighter jets, in a mandatory motion already required before this case, was decided. The first step was taken on 4 January 2016: For 50 weeks, two armed F / A-18s were available on QRA15 on weekdays from 8am to 6pm. As of 2 January 2017, this presence was guaranteed from 8 am to 6 pm daily. Since 1 January 2019, the jets are ready from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm and by the end of 2020 they will be on QRA 24 hours over 365 days.
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- Praesentation Aufbau Luftpolizeidienst 24h[permanent dead link]
- — at the Wayback Machine (archived 2 April 2015)