An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 777-200 freighter, registration ET-AVN was performing flight ET-3728 from Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to Hong Kong (China) with 6 crew members onboard. They were enroute at FL410 (41,000ft) near the equator crossing into Indonesian Airspace, about 1200nm south of the great circle route and the usual company route. Indonesia dispatched fighter aircraft (supposedly F-16’s) to intercept the freighter due to a missing overflight permission. The fighter aircraft accompanied the aircraft to Hang Nadim Airport on Indonesia’s Island of Batam, where the aircraft landed safely about 9 hours after departure from Addis Ababa, at about the estimated time of arrival into Hong Kong.
Hang Nadim Airport reported the aircraft had departed Addis Ababa for Hong Kong.
Indonesia’s Airforce reported the aircraft had no permission to overfly Indonesia and was intercepted as result. The aircraft has been directed to land on Batam Island and is currently being kept there.
The airline claimed the aircraft had departed Addis Ababa for Singapore (Singapore) to deliver a replacement engine to Singapore. According to ICAO convention article 5, an unscheduled flight can overfly the airspace of a friendly country without prior permission, the airline stated.
Freight flight ET-3728 usually operates from Addis Ababa or Brussels (Belgium) to Hong Kong, however, on Nov 25th 2018 and Dec 23rd 2018 the flight also operated from Addis Ababa to Singapore.
Airspace throughout Asia can be heavily restricted by some authorities, so a reaction like this by the Indonesian authorities is vital to protect their borders to an unknown threat.
Air force spokesman First Marshal Novyan Samyoga said in a statement the Boeing Co 777 cargo plane had been secured by air force personnel at Hang Nadim international airport on Batam, an island south of Singapore.