Last week Kenya Airlines saw one of its Boeing 747 aircraft temporarily lose contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC), over Germany, en route to its destination, the Netherlands, resulting in an intervention by two fighter jets.
Flight KQ118 departed Nairobi 00:07 on September 20th. But the flight was scheduled to depart at 11:59 on September 19th so took off 8 minutes late. It had a number of countries to fly over and Germany was the last airspace to fly through before it reached its destination.
When the pilots on the flight did not respond to ATC calls, German forces became concerned and dispatched two Eurofighter jets to intercept the airliner.
Thankfully, communication was restored soon after the fighter jets’ interception and ATC was able to reconnect and civilian passengers were able to safely finish their journey.
Speculation says that the cause of no contact was due to not switching to the correct frequency after leaving Austrian space and entering German space. Once the Eurofighter jets arrived though, it caught the Boeing 747 pilot’s attention and it is believed they realised the mistake and promptly switched frequencies.
However, there were concerns, especially terrorism, and whilst the eventual outcome did not end negatively, the situation was frightening for many. But loss of communications happens sometimes in flights and most instances are not too serious, a spokesperson for the KQ flights said, “The incident is not uncommon in aviation, as aircraft may occasionally lose contact with the ATC for a number of reasons: power failure when flying in areas with poor reception or a missed frequency change.”
The fighter jet pilots were also relieved to receive a response from flight KQ118 as since the events of 9/11 in 2001, procedures are in place to shoot down places if extremely rare circumstances. Though it would have been unlikely, it was still a possibility, as the Telegraph suggests.