Airplane GEEK

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Non-Responsive Jazeera Airways A320neo Prompts Sonic Booms

On October 22nd, residents of the Rhein/Main region west of Frankfurt heard sonic booms as two fighter jets were dispatched to intercept an aircraft that had lost communications with air traffic control. The plane in question was a Jazeera Airways Airbus A320neo flying from Kuwait to London. This is the second incident of its kind in just over a month, let’s find out the details of this incident.

Jazeera new aircraft arrives to Kuwait
Jazeera Airways operates an all-Airbus A320 fleet. The airline has been taking deliveries of brand new Airbus A320neos over the past year. Photo: Jazeera Airways

Flying from Kuwait to London

On October 22nd, a Jazeera Airways Airbus A320neo registered 9K-CBH was performing a regular commercial passenger flight from Kuwait City to London Heathrow. According to the Aviation Herald, the flight, designated J97, was cruising at FL360 over Germany when the communication with ATC was lost.

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This loss of communication prompted the scrambling of two Eurofighters to intercept the aircraft in order to reestablish radio contact. As a result of the fighter jets being dispatched, supersonic booms were reported in the Rhein/Main region west of Frankfurt, while others reported that the loud booms could be heard East of Frankfurt as well.

Simple Flying’s Content Manager, Tom Boon, based in Frankfurt confirmed hearing the sonic boom overhead. Boon commented that the boom sounded like a truck falling over on the nearby junction. It was only when he received a text from somebody across town that he thought of a sonic boom. One ‘witness’ commenting on the Aviation Herald page stated “Personally thought a tank might had been exploding at the local chemical plant.”

The Aviation Herald notes that Germany’s Luftwaffe confirmed that the two Eurofighters were dispatched at around 17:10 local time to intercept an aircraft. Communication was restored, and the aircraft continued onwards to London without any further incident.

Jazeera Airways flight J9-7
The flight from Kuwait to London takes roughly six and a half hours and is one of Jazeera Airways’ longest flights. This service was launched on the eve of the global health crisis and was largely suspended due to travel restrictions. Photo:

A similar incident in September

It was just over a month ago, on September 20th, that Flight KQ118, a regularly scheduled Boeing 787 service between Nairobi (Kenya) and Amsterdam (Netherlands), lost communications with air traffic controllers over Germany. This, too, prompted two German Eurofighter jets to be dispatched to reestablish communications.

As we reported in the article about this incident, the supersonic boom disruption was reported from Landshut to Frankfurt/Main, a little further east of what was reported with Saturday’s Jazeera Airways flight.

Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner 5Y-KZC
A similar incident took place on September 20th involving a Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Frequency change?

In the September 20th incident, many had speculated that the crew of the aircraft had failed to switch frequencies when moving from Austrian airspace to German airspace.

Judging by the similar flight path of J97, it would lead us to believe that what happened in September was also what took place recently. Simple Flying has reached out to Jazeera Airways for a statement on the matter.

What do you think of this incident? If the communications loss was a result of a failure to switch frequencies, should airlines be penalized? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

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