Israeli jets scramble after Egyptian plane fails to identify
Communications belatedly resume, and fighter planes escort civilian aircraft to safe landing at Ben Gurion Airport
Illustrative photo of an IAF F-16 (IDF Spokesperson's Unit/Flash90)
The Israeli Air Force scrambled jets Saturday morning to intercept a civilian jetliner from Egypt, after the pilot failed to identify before entering Israeli airspace, as is standard procedure.
When normal communications with the Air Sinai plane were established, the two warplanes stood down, but continued to escort the aircraft until it landed safely at Ben Gurion Airport.
“Earlier this morning, two Israel Air Force aircraft accompanied a foreign aircraft planning to land at Ben Gurion Airport which did not identify itself when entering Israeli airspace,” a military spokeswoman said.
“The aircraft landed safely at Ben Gurion Airport as planned,” she added, without giving further details.
Israel Radio said that in Saturday’s incident the Air Sinai aircraft was flown by pilots new to the route and unfamiliar with the usual radio identification procedure when approaching Israel.
“The Egyptian company was asked to make the procedures clear to its pilots,” the radio said.
News website Ynet, however, said that the pilot’s radio silence was “apparently due to a technical fault.”
Israeli officials are likely more wary of the safety of Egyptian flights after a Russian plane that took off from the Sinai resort-town of Sharm el-Sheikh was brought down by an Islamic State bomb on board last year, killing all 224 passengers and crew.
Meanwhile in late March, a plane traveling from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked and taken to Cyprus by a passenger threatening to blow himself up. The hijacker was arrested and the case was later ruled out as a terror attack.