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Sunday 16 December 2018

Fighter jets intercept Ryanair flight after radio communications failure

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Patrick Flynn

Fighter jets from two countries were scrambled to intercept a Ryanair flight after air traffic controllers lost communications with the aircraft.

Ryanair FR-9525 from Lublin in Poland to Stansted Airport in England suffered a radio communications failure over the Netherlands last Saturday night.

The Boeing 737-800 jet was flying at 36,000ft as it entered Dutch airspace when controllers at Maastricht were unable to make contact with the jet.

As result of the loss of radio contact and fearing a possible security issue, two Belgian Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft were dispatched to intercept the aircraft.

It is understood that, at the time, the fighter jets were operating patrols in the airspace on behalf of Belgian and Dutch governments when they responded to the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA).

At the same time, two RAF Typhoon fighter jets were also scrambled from one of the UK's QRA Air Force bases at Coningsby in Lincolnshire, so they could intercept the plane when it entered British airspace.

When the Belgian Air Force jets intercepted the flight near Rotterdam, radio contact was quickly re-established and the crew confirmed there was no security issue. The fighter aircraft were stood down while the Ryanair flight continued to Stansted.

It's understood there had been no contact from the aircraft for more than 30 minutes and efforts were made to call the flight on a number of radio frequencies, including the international aviation radio distress channel.

The aircraft was also understood to be visible on radar at all times.

Ryanair was asked four questions in relation to the matter but would only say: "This flight from Lublin landed normally at Stansted Airport."

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) of the Department of Transport here confirmed it was notified of the incident.

A spokesman said: "The event was reported to the AAIU as the state of registry. Said events are a security matter and where military aircraft are scrambled to intercept commercial aircraft under loss of communications criteria, it is a matter for the military and security services.

"As this event occurred in UK airspace it is a matter for the security services of the UK. As such the AAIU is not investigating this occurrence," the AAIU added.

Sunday Independent

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