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Pilots bail out in false alarm at Dulles airport

By Mike Ahlers
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pilots of a Northwest Airlines flight at Dulles International Airport bailed out of their cockpit windows by rope Tuesday evening, evidently after mistakenly perceiving a threat, airline and federal officials said. No one was hurt.

"We believe that it was a misunderstanding and indeed there was no threat," Northwest spokesman Bill Mellon told CNN. He refused to say what prompted the pilots to think they had been threatened.

The FBI sent agents to the scene, but characterized the incident as a "false alarm."

The Northwest jetliner, a DC-10, contained 215 passengers, three pilots and eight flight attendants. All the passengers and crew members were safe, Mellon said. The jet was bound for Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Reuters reported. It had been scheduled to depart at 5:30 p.m. EDT.

Dulles was the departure site for American Airlines flight 77, which crashed September 11 into the Pentagon.

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