Student confesses to AirDrop bomb hoax that caused US flight to divert from tarmac, say officials

A school pupil has confessed to sending a hoax bomb threat to passengers on a plane using Apple’s AirDrop function, US officials have said.

The message resulted in an American Airlines flight being diverted from the tarmac at an airport in Texas last week.

The Department of Public Safety said an investigation resulted in the teenager being identified – before he admitted sending the message.

Authorities said the student, from Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, had been detained following the incident.

The school said the boy and his classmates had been returning from a school-sponsored mission trip near the Texas-Mexico border, in El Paso, and that the message was sent “in jest”.

While the plane was taxiing on the runway, the AirDrop message received on passengers’ phones read: “I have a bomb would like to share a photo.”

The AirDrop feature, exclusive to Apple devices, allows file sharing to anyone within range while turned on.

The aircraft heading for Chicago was immediately taxied off the tarmac to a gate and the authorities were called.

Bomb squad searched the plane, passengers, and their luggage but no explosives were found.

In a statement released by the FBI, it said there was “no known credible threat to the aircraft or its passengers”.

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However, the teenager still faces charges in El Paso County, with him being taken into the El Paso Juvenile Probation Department.

The Department of Public Safety said evidence supporting the boy’s confession was found on the suspect’s phone.

The agency said the El Paso County attorney had agreed to bring charges of false alarm or report.

Central Catholic High School said it was waiting for authorities to determine when the student can be released.

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