A bungling pilot sparked a mass panic at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport last night by accidentally sending a hijack alert during a lesson with a trainee, it has been claimed.
Dutch military police raced to the scene on Wednesday evening following the alert, setting up cordons and warning passengers to stay away from the area.
'Terrified' passengers spoke of screaming at the airport and 'armed police running about' as the area was locked down amid reports of an attack.
But moments afterwards, Air Europa released a statement saying that it was all a 'false alarm' and that the warning was activated by mistake.
It has now emerged that the code for a hijacking may have been entered while a pilot was trying to explain to a trainee how to use the transponder, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
Pilots can send signals using a transponder in the event of emergency situations, such as a hijacking, a loss of communication or an emergency. But these must be entered using a four-digit code.
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'Terrified' passengers have spoken of screaming at the airport and 'armed police running about' as a police cordon is set up in the area (pictured, passengers at the airport)
One passenger told MailOnline: 'Nobody knows what is happened here, there was a lot of screaming going on and armed police running about' (pictured, passengers in the airport)
Dutch military police are responding to the incident, and there were suggestions earlier of an attack on a plane (pictured, police at the scene)
Dutch military police were responding to reports of a suspected hijacking onboard a plane at Amsterdam Schiphol airport (left, a police cordon in place, and right an image looking out on to a plane)
Air Europa released a statement to say that it was all a 'false alarm' and that the warning was activated by mistake
But aviation experts have cast doubt on this view, saying that you can only enter the emergency codes if the radio is not working - and the transponder cannot ordinarily be used while the plane is on the ground.
Revealing the 'false alarm' on a flight from Amsterdam to Madrid, Air Europa said in a tweet: 'This afternoon by mistake an alert was activated which sets off a protocol response to airport hostage situations.'
'Nothing has happened and all passengers are fine and waiting to fly soon. We're sorry.'
Dutch police said passengers and crew had disembarked safely following the incident, following reports of panic and 'screaming' in the airport.
One passenger told