Eurofighter jets intervention due to Kenya Airways loss of communications after 8-hour flight revealed

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.

Showing Flight KQ118 travel route
Image of flight KQ118 travel route © OpenStreetMap contributors

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.

Showing two fighter jets
Image of two Eurofighter jets © Airbus

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.”

showing German Airspace Operations centre
Image of the inside of German air space operations centre © Wikipedia

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.

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Giselle Tadman
Giselle Tadman
Assistant Editor and Aviation Correspondent: Giselle is an experienced journalist and editor with a broad background in writing and editing in various copy. With a passion for technology, health, and education, she is building her aviation repertoire with her dedication to Travel Radar.


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