Sunday, 23 October 2022

Ethiopian Airlines flight intercepted after radio silence.


An Ethiopian Airlines cargo flight flying from Liege, Belgium (LGG/EBLG) to Bole Airport in Addis Ababa (ADD/HAAB) last Saturday lost radio communication for an hour. 

Reports say its last communication with air traffic control (ATC) was made with the Zagreb Center in Croatian airspace. Despite many attempts no further contact was made with the flight crew as it crossed over Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece.

When air traffic controllers in Greece were unable to raise the crew on radio, despite multiple attempts, including on the designated international emergency channel 121.5, fighter jets were ordered to intercept the plane.

According to reports, the Greek fighter jets, (two GRC F-16's were scrambled at 18:45) reached the Ethiopian Airlines plane over the Mediterranean Sea, just before it crossed into Egyptian territory. After an exchange with the Greek pilots, the 767-300 crew resumed communications. 

Although communications disruptions occur, “it is unlikely that any external variable could have disrupted communications in this instance, as the aircraft was well within range of many operating ATC frequencies, and many other aircraft had no communication difficulties.”

The aircraft departed Liege Airport in Belgium at 15:58 from 22L, over three hours behind schedule. Despite the alarming flight, the aircraft landed safely on runway 07R at 23:37 at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Airlines has not acknowledged or made formal comment on the incident, which appears similar to an August 2022 Ethiopian flight in which a crew flying from Khartoum to Addis Ababa reportedly fell asleep and did not respond to air traffic controllers. They landed safely after first overshooting the runway.

Both pilots in that incident were suspended after an investigation by the airlines.

Aircraft Information:
Airline: Ethiopian 
Code: ET/ETH
Aircraft: Boeing 767-360
Registration: ET-ALO
Serial Number: 33768
Engines:  2 x PW PW4062
First Flew: 07/05/2004
Age: 18 Yrs. 5 Mts.

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