On Thursday a Jet Airways Boeing 777-300 operating from Mumbai to London Heathrow with 330 passengers and 15 crew onboard lost radio contact with air traffic control as it was handed over from Bratislava to Prague Center.
The aircraft continued flying as expected, but without radio contact Germany sent two fighter jets to intercept.
Contact was re-established on an emergency frequency when the aircraft was north of Nuremberg, Germany although the intercept continued.
The aircraft eventually landed safely at Heathrow.
The Aviation Herald reports that the Jet Airways plane transposed radio frequency digits with the crew tuning to “132.980MHz while the correct frequency was 132.890MHz.”
Here from the cockpit of British Airways BA2042 from Male to London Gatwick which was trailing the Jet Airways plane you can see the German Air Force aircraft catching up to the Jet Airways 777.
This is almost always discussed in the form of a euphamism but to be clear when planes are intercepted by fighter jets the primary reason is so that the commercial aircraft can be shot down, or to create a credible threat to shoot down the plane, when believed to be taken over by terrorists. They always go up prepared to bring down the plane. Scary stuff and grateful they were able to re-establish contact.
One fascinating story is that on 9/11 an F-16 scrambled to go after United flight 93 and they hadn’t had time to arm it. Without missiles, the Air Force jet was prepared for a kamikaze mission before the passengers themselves brought down the plane.
(HT: Live from a Lounge)