AVIATION: False Alarm

Airline crews can seldom prevent skyjackings, but they can usually alert ground stations to what is happening. Every commercial aircraft is equipped with a transponder, a small radio transmitter that sends out automatic signals on any chosen frequency. The secret signal for skyjackings in recent years was 3100 on the transponder. Any airliner "squawking" on that frequency had been skyjacked and could be expected to request a new destination.

That at least was what Australian ground stations assumed last week when the 3100 signal came from Olympic Airways Flight 472, which had just taken off from Sydney bound for Singapore....

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