Spanish emergency services were thrown into a full scale alert on Thursday, when a passenger jet crashed into the sea of the coast of Gran Canaria, and was seen floating along the horizon in a scene reminiscent of the famous water landing on the Hudson River.

However, although looking at the pictures it was easy to see why, the incident was not as dramatic as the teams of rescuers sprung into action to deal with, as it was nothing more than a floating crane being towed along the water.

The emergency coordination centre received numerous calls relating to the sighting, immediately adopting their rehearsed protocol to deal with such incidents. Whereas the emergency crews can only be applauded for their prompt action, it later transpired that the situation was exaggerated, as the initiating call reporting the aircraft ditching in the sea came from the airport itself.

The desperate plea that launched the response came from the airport controllers, reporting a “Boeing 737 in the water off the coast of Jinámar and is floating repeat is floating, it has not sunk. Please mobilize all available means”.

The 112 emergency centre relays the call, “Gran Canaria Airport, a Boeing, please confirm”.

And the perhaps dreaded response from the airport, “Affirmative Boeing 737 floating. Not sunk. Mobilize all available means, please….."

The conversation ends with emergency coordinator relaying the chilling response, “I confirm Airport: all resources are going to the area”.

For its part, the airport authority, AENA, confirms that the airport acted according to the safety protocol, and that the airport fulfilled its actions by doing “what had to be done”, explaining that in the reporting of any potential impact, speed is vital, as is the immediate activation of the emergency response teams, along with search and rescue.

In fact, in the event of a similar situation, there is probably nobody who would rather have rescuers sent to help in a mistaken situation like this, then be on board a crashed plane and be left alone, should the opposite occur, and the controllers think that a crashed aircraft looked like a crane.

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