Thursday, January 19, 2006

IAF jets scrambled to escort El Al plane wrongly thought to have been hijacked


Two Israel Air Force war planes were scrambled on Thursday afternoon to escort an El Al Israel Airlines passenger plane that was thought to have been hijacked.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the civilian plane, which was traveling from Moscow to Tel Aviv, for three minutes but the report on the hijacking was subsequently proven to be incorrect.

The airliner landed safely in Israel. El Al expressed amazement that IAF jets were scrambled so quickly.

The plane, a 757 Boeing carrying 79 travelers, lost contact with European air-traffic controllers while in flight. According to regulations, an airplane hijacking attempt was reported and Ben Gurion Airport was temporarily closed to all flight traffic. IAF F-warplanes planes were sent to escort the airlines.

El Al reported that an initial probe conducted by Deputy Director General of Operations, Lior Yavor, indicated the pilots failed to respond to Israeli air-traffic control for three minutes because they were in contact with Cyprus air-traffic control.

The plane landed without IAF escort and was immediately examined by security personnel.