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RAF Planes Escort Unresponsive Cargo Jet

The craft, operated by Hungarian cargo service Fleet Air International, was experiencing problems with its communications system. It was escorted to safety by jets from Britain’s Royal Air Force.

Fighters from Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) were scrambled early on Tuesday morning in order to intercept and escort a cargo plane that was experiencing problems with its communications system.

The inbound craft, a Saab 340 twin-engine turboprop, had departed from Bucharest at 01:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday and was carrying three crew but no passengers at the time of the incident.

The plane, operated by Hungarian cargo service Fleet Air International, had also been intercepted by Belgian jets over the North Sea earlier that morning. As it entered UK airspace, the Telegraph reports that the craft was escorted by two Typhoon jets from an RAF base in Lincolnshire, a county in the country’s east, as well as a Voyager craft from a base in Oxfordshire, a county in the south of Britain.

The cargo plane landed safely at approximately 07:30 a.m. local time at Birmingham Airport (BHX). The facility’s runway was closed for about 30 minutes as the craft landed, with one inbound flight from Dublin being diverted to nearby East Midlands Airport (EMA) as a result of the closure.

A spokesman for the RAF commented on the incident to the paper, saying “The Royal Air Force can confirm that Typhoon aircraft from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire were launched this morning on a quick reaction alert mission to intercept a civilian aircraft that had lost communications. The aircraft was safely escorted to Birmingham International Airport.”

A spokesperson for BHX also added that “We can confirm that a private Saab 340 aircraft inbound from Bucharest to Birmingham and carrying three crew encountered communication difficulties during a flight earlier today. In accordance with normal operating procedures the aircraft was intercepted by military jets on arrival into UK airspace and was escorted up to its scheduled arrival into Birmingham.”

[Photo:  Peter Byrne/PA]

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