RAF jets were scrambled this morning to escort a Ryanair plane into Stansted Airport following a suspected hoax.
The flight from Kaunas in Lithuania to London Luton was diverted after Lithuanian authorities received a security alert, the budget airline said.
Essex Police are now investigating the incident, with officers on scene as the jet landed at around 8.55am.
Local residents described hearing a sonic boom so strong “the whole house shook” as the Typhoon jets passed by, with the military aircraft given permission to travel at “supersonic speed”.
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “The flight from Kaunas to London Luton [was] diverted to London Stansted in line with procedures after Lithuanian authorities received a suspected hoax security alert.
“The aircraft landed normally at Stansted and customers will be transferred to Luton by coach when cleared to do so.”
An MoD spokesman told HuffPost UK Typhoons were scrambled out of RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire to escort an airliner into Stansted Airport.
“The RAF can confirm Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this morning from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft,” they said.
“The aircraft was safely escorted to Stansted airport. The Typhoon aircraft were authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons; any inconvenience caused to local residents is regretted.”
Suffolk Police confirmed that the loud bangs heard was a sonic boom caused by military aircraft.
Another passenger on the diverted plane, who tweets from the account @zulu_wooloo, described seeing “around 20-25 fully armed officers” as they were escorted from the airliner.
Flights were briefly grounded at Stansted Airport as the incident unfolded, with passengers on the tarmac told it was due to “security” reasons.
Flights are now arriving and departing as normal, officials said.
A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “A Ryanair flight from Kaunas, Lithuania to Luton Airport has been diverted to Stansted Airport following reports of a security alert.
“The plane landed safely at around 8.55am and passengers being are safely brought off.”
They continued: “The runway was closed for a short time but has now re-opened. Police are on scene and enquiries are ongoing.”
According to the Press Association, Stansted is a designated airport for dealing with hijacks and major security alerts.
Such incidents are normally dealt with in a remote part of the airfield to the north west of the terminal building.