TEL AVIV (Mar. 12)
An El Al official said here last night that rigid security and precautionary measures taken by the air line make it almost impossible to hijack an El Al plane, Yerahmiel Shrem participated in a public discussion of airline security. He did not specify the measures taken but indicated that the airline also had effective ways of detecting explosives in luggage and cargo compartments. (United States federal aviation officials disclosed in Chicago yesterday that El Al and a number of European airlines are using a device that detects the odor of explosives in a plane and flashes a warning to the crew. The device was developed under a federal grant by the Illinois Institute of Technology and was subsequently improved by Israeli scientists. According to officials it was in use aboard El Al planes long before Feb. 21 when Israel-bound Austrian and Swiss air jets were bombed in midair. The Swiss plane crashed at Zurich killing all 47 persons aboard.)
A Swiss air representative participating in the air safety discussion disclosed that since the Feb. 21 disaster his company has permitted its crews to volunteer for flights to Israel. They may refuse, he said. He suggested that Israel invite the bereaved families of the Swiss air crew killed in the Feb. 21 crash. A bomb scare at Lydda airport delayed TWA passengers for more than an hour last night while their plane and all the luggage aboard was searched. No bomb was found. A phone call to an airport hostess at eight p.m. said a bomb had been placed aboard a plane about to take off but did not specify the airline. A TWA jet on a New York-Far East flight via Lydda was the only plane on the runway at the time. It was halted and the passengers were disembarked. They continued their flight on a second TWA plane.