TODAY   |  February 08, 2014

Man claims bomb on plane, demands reroute to Sochi

A passenger made a bomb threat aboard a plane Friday and demanded the plane be diverted to Sochi, Russia. The crew stayed calm, and landed at an Istanbul airport instead. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>> chief foreign correspondent richard engel has been keeping a close eye on all this. richard, what exactly happened here?

>> so, while you were watching this opening ceremony and the world was watching with such concern, and there was such a security bubble here, this hijacking situation was under way. a flight was in the air from the ukraine to turkey. and a man sitting in one of the front rows, second row, got up and told the cabin crew that there was a bomb on board and that he wanted the plane to be diverted to sochi . and the cabin crew by all accounts was very calm, very cool, very well trained. they didn't fight with him. the pilot said, no problem. we will go to sochi . and the passengers all thought they were going to sochi . and they turned off -- the cabin crew -- that monitoring system that is in the back of the seats that lets you know exactly where you are. and since they were flying over the black sea , this -- by the way, this flight wasn't far away . we're on the black sea here and they were flying over the black sea , so it was very plausible. since they were flying over the black sea and the map system was turned off, the people inside the plane really didn't know where they were going. they eventually land in istanbul. the hijacker doesn't know where they are. even the people on board didn't know where they were. they thought they were in sochi . and it was only when they turn on their cell phones and they saw that they weren't roaming on to a russian carrier, and they thought why are we getting turkish cell phone ? ah, we must be in turkey opinion then turkish commandos started coming on board, the passengers were brought off. eventually, turkish special forces tackled this guy, took him into custody.

>> was there any real threat?

>> there was no bomb. no weapon was found. today a turkish official said he was not drunk but that he may have been on some prescription medication. they're investigating him, but so far, no links to any terrorist organization .

>> i would think, if nothing else, it was a test of the communications, the international networking, security issues.

>> they were aware of it here, according to a senior official, russian official this morning. they were concerned about it. and if this plane had gotten anywhere near sochi , this would have been a major international incident . 110 passengers on board. don't forget, there's a lot of antiaircraft batteries just all around here for exactly this scenario. so, the pilots, the cabin crew , they acted very well, textbook training, as we've been told by security experts , and avoided what could have been a very different situation.

>> well, we're glad it turned out the way it did. richard engel , thanks very much.