View Full Version : Korean 777 interception and diversion

16th Jul 2017, 14:20
Reports of KAL 917 to Zurich being escorted into Stuttgart after losing comms last night. Apparently the sonic booms from the interceptors generated hundreds of reports to the police. The 777 is said to have performed an interesting circuit flying low in a northerly direction over the middle of the airport before turning downwind and landing to the east. This was then followed by the passengers camping out in the airport overnight. Anyone know any more?

16th Jul 2017, 14:53
Below the approach per FR24 - all with the Eurofighters along them (besides actual touchdown). Comms was lost in one way only (917 could transmit but not receive).

German/local press on it: Abfangjäger ?begleiten? Passagierflugzeug: Das bedeutete der laute Knall über Stuttgart - Stuttgart - Stuttgarter Zeitung (http://www.stuttgarter-zeitung.de/inhalt.abfangjaeger-unterwegs-das-bedeutete-der-laute-knall-ueber-stuttgart.3c9269fd-760e-41f3-8ed9-36770d7cce47.html)

763 jock
16th Jul 2017, 14:58
Heard just about everyone trying to call them on 121.5 last night. Wondered what it was all about.

16th Jul 2017, 16:47
I wouldn't be surprised if the strong reaction to this NORDO followed a 7600 squawk.

Do they teach you to reboot electronic equipment that has stopped working to get it back operational, i.e. is that part of the formal procedures?

16th Jul 2017, 18:13
Assume that every captain has done that more than once in his career. However hard to believe that with all the redundancy the crew could not establish any communication with ATC at all. Will be interesting what the BFU report comes up with. The original destination Zürich is the same distance as Stuttgart, so to avoid camping out in Stuttgart you would expect, that they go through some length of in air trouble shooting.

16th Jul 2017, 18:22
Just that the Luftwaffe wont give them a lot of time -- and certainly wont fly to ZRH. (917 came from Seoul/North..)

16th Jul 2017, 19:28
Naive question: Why shouldn't a NORDO fly out their clearance and land, at ZRH? That's what I was taught to do and have taught students as standard IFR lost comms procedure. They must have offered or volunteered to land at Stuttgart, a quieter place.

16th Jul 2017, 19:56
lot of info - in comments fwiw - now on AvH Incident: Korean B773 near Berlin on Jul 15th 2017, loss of communication (http://avherald.com/h?article=4abb0e4a&opt=0)

16th Jul 2017, 20:25
Interesting view from this SLF type. Much ado about not much. reading linked AvH comments by several more less informed re NATO, violation of swiss airspace, etc seems to make even more doodoo . With the heightend tensions, etc, IMHO the old land at the planned airport in case of nordo probably no longer applies. To avoid possible baddies or confusion, the presence of a few fighter aircraft makes the desired /required flight path very clear including for sure avoiding other aircraft in a busy terminal area in a major population center. :oh:

16th Jul 2017, 20:41
Tendency is to say lightly - TOO much comotion for a simple NORDO case. Too little on facts so far published. But did ATC try to find out wether or not KAL 917 could at least receive messages on 121,5 by ordering course deviations ?? Contrary statements so far about the remaining capability - some state no transmissions and other no receiving?? I tend to believe it was either transmitting or total failure!!
In good old pre 9/11 days that would have been a simple case of observation and follow up to the place of destination and a landing accordimg published procedures. However, that day in September 2001 has changed the"rules of the game" and now a days it is even more important to stick to the old rule : Better be safe than Sorry !! Therefore and because of the differences in now a days threats, the scrambled fighters might appear to be severe inconvenient - but it´s safe for public consciense !!

17th Jul 2017, 03:49
I'd really like to hear from someone in the ATC business regarding how they are instructed to handle 7600 squawks. If not classified, it might be instructional.

I suspect that once you move away from your assigned squawk, their procedures now mandate a strong response since they cannot ascertain whether or not there is interference with the flight crew.

17th Jul 2017, 06:03
I have had a similar problem twice in a 777, but in both cases I could partially receive.

Once into dubai and once thankfully on the ground prior to taxi in Beijing.

In both cases it was the comms box ,or whatever its called in the EEB , in the Dubai incident the aircraft was on the ground for nearly 8 hrs.

17th Jul 2017, 06:40
Comms was lost in one way only (917 could transmit but not receive).

What happened to "transmitting blind" procedures? That way they could inform ATC they were continuing to destination. That is, of course, if they had diagnosed the problem as a receiver only one. How many radios does a B773 have? Surely 3 VHF and what about Sat phones, HF etc.
In answer to a previous question: I have rebooted the CB on a non-working VHF radio box and it did function again.

17th Jul 2017, 08:59
@RAT 5... See first quote. Pretty much everyone and their grandmothers was trying to be oh so helpful in relaying a frequency to Korean, to the point that 121,5 was blocked for extended periods. It started with someone offering Radar to attempt to relay, all well and good. But then people started chiming in on their own, relaying incorrect frequencies, stepping on each others transmissions and being generally useless...

And apparently none of them was listening for replies to their helpful transmissions as I heard Korean Air 917 transmit their intentions several times ("Korean Air 917, if anyone receives please respond. We are heading/landing Delta Kilo Bravo" where DKB is a VOR near Stuttgart I believe?).

I opted to relay that message to the frequency that they wanted Korean on, no idea if it was helpful but it seemed more sensible than falling over others trying to relay a frequency to an aircraft that quite obviously has radio issues and was not receiving. One friendly Speedbird was even so thoughtful to spell out the frequency one number per two seconds, therefore blocking 121,5 for about 15-20 seconds.

I'd hope everyone that was up in the air over Germany that night will take a bit of a look at their radio discipline... Maybe keep the frequency clear and don't get involved unless requested or offer your assistance before spamming 121,5.

17th Jul 2017, 09:30
Intrance - Very well said, in such a case radio discipline has to be the primary attempt to keep control on the situation.
I have to correct myself in my earlier post as far as the failure mode is involved. Transmit only is quite another case.
However the Rules and Regulations of ICAO, Eurocontrol and DFS (German ATC) and the applicable procedures are all layed down in papers and well known to the controllers.
It might be interesting to find out who is responsible for the scramble of the fighters and that intercept of an civil aircraft, that clearly indicated it´s intention to proceed along it´s flightplan inbound to Zurich. An intention in accordance to the STANDARD Radio failure procedure.

17th Jul 2017, 09:38
Couple of idiot questions from a bug smasher:

Presumably during daylight, the crew could communicate with the interceptors via hand signals - what would be the protocol for a night flight?

Does the onboard wifi use the same 'aerial' as the comms? If not, could/would they try to communicate using it?

17th Jul 2017, 10:02
Thank you Itrance. Indeed, your comments.

HEMS driver
17th Jul 2017, 13:10
This could have been avoided if the 777 crew carried one of these, and they are likely made in Korea. :)


Standing by for comments about radio propagation, antenna efficiency, etc. :rolleyes:
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Ian W
17th Jul 2017, 13:28
I'd really like to hear from someone in the ATC business regarding how they are instructed to handle 7600 squawks. If not classified, it might be instructional.

I suspect that once you move away from your assigned squawk, their procedures now mandate a strong response since they cannot ascertain whether or not there is interference with the flight crew.

Most automated ATM systems will maintain the correlated Identity so going to 77 or 76 will show that the aircraft is squawking emergency but the correlated aircraft identity will be retained on the display. These days there are multiple sources of surveillance information and they are all collated as a 'track' once that has been correlated with a source of identity that identity will be retained against the track. So a loss of secondary radar will mean the correlated primary radar track will retain the data block etc. Remember if you are also supplying Mode S or ADS-B Extended Squitter (effectively the same thing) you are supplying your airframe identity as part of that transmission.

17th Jul 2017, 14:27
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP doesn't transmit or receive on the VHF or UHF airbands so it might not be much help. I believe it is made in China, I'm not sure.

I have tried to carry a handheld airband transceiver internationally in the past but the customs folks always want to confiscate it at places like DXB, BOM, SIN, ICN and PVG since it may require a local license or even be illegal in some countries. After talking my way out of trouble a couple of times, I quit carrying the radio.

Carbon Bootprint
17th Jul 2017, 15:15
hEMS Driver: I'm pretty sure Baofeng radios are made in China, not that it matters. But why would a preofessional air crew feel compelled to carry one?

17th Jul 2017, 18:26
I heard KAL917 on 121.5 as I was getting airborne out of London. It sounded like the Captain had already started the descent shortly after, as he was reporting the level passing and waypoint passed.
I had an idea to SELCAL him on 121.5, but ECAM lit up and of course, our priority was our flight. After we solved our aircraft's problems I SATCOM'd Zurich to get their SELCAL code off the filed flight plan. Too late, fighters were apparently leading him into Stuttgart.

On another point, if you are intercepted ICAO rules state that the intercepted is to follow the interceptor even if it contradicts ATC clearances.

Additionally, the phrase "TRANSMITTING BLIND" should have been used in 917's transmissions if they were unable to hear other stations.

I wonder if KAL917 tried SATCOM, HF or even an ACARs back to KAL?

17th Jul 2017, 19:12
Very easy to lose contact over Europe. Recollect doing so when, IIRC, we were not transferred. By the time we realised there was a problem, we were out of range of our assigned frequency. A spot of frenetic frequency changing ensued before we made contact.
We were on a route check. The checker was not sympathetic. :(

17th Jul 2017, 19:26
I wonder if KAL917 tried SATCOM, HF or even an ACARs back to KAL?

And conversely, did the Germans or anybody else contact Korean Ops and get them to send an ACARS with a ding or a SATCOM call? I'm guessing there was no CPDLC response.

17th Jul 2017, 22:52
From what I heard while monitoring 121,5, another Korean Air flight (think it was KE904) over Germany actually did arrange to have an ACARS message sent. But apparently no response to that either.

HEMS driver
18th Jul 2017, 02:58
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP doesn't transmit or receive on the VHF or UHF airbands so it might not be much help. I believe it is made in China, I'm not sure.

I have tried to carry a handheld airband transceiver internationally in the past but the customs folks always want to confiscate it at places like DXB, BOM, SIN, ICN and PVG since it may require a local license or even be illegal in some countries. After talking my way out of trouble a couple of times, I quit carrying the radio.

The version I posted does in fact transmit and receive. :ok: Look here (https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00MAULSOK/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1F1X8F4JPL1I7&colid=ITIXER2S4158).

HEMS driver
18th Jul 2017, 03:04
hEMS Driver: I'm pretty sure Baofeng radios are made in China, not that it matters. But why would a preofessional air crew feel compelled to carry one?

Lighten up Francis. The point is that a simple low-tech solution can fix the problem. That radio ($70 in the U.S.) is a lot cheaper than the cost of F-35s, diversion, hotels, crews, etc. etc.

A lot of pilots carry a hand-held backup radio for when the high-tech kit fails.

18th Jul 2017, 03:15
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP doesn't transmit or receive on the VHF or UHF airbands so it might not be much help.

The version I posted does in fact transmit and receive. :ok: Look here (https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00MAULSOK/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I1F1X8F4JPL1I7&colid=ITIXER2S4158).

BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF)

I guess nobody ever told you what the frequency ranges are of the VHF and UHF airbands. ;)

If you know someone who is a pilot, they might be able to explain it to you. :ok:

18th Jul 2017, 04:57
In certain countries, unless you are a licenced pilot or Air Traffic Controller, in the course of your duties, using a transmitter on ATC frequencies is illegal, may even be illegal to own such a transmitter, not sure about that. Usually only listening is allowed.

Less Hair
18th Jul 2017, 09:08
Maybe some sealed standby brick should be made standard in cockpits? Still don't get what made them lose all incoming comms together?

19th Jul 2017, 06:44
Regardless of the facts, if there is any suspicion that all is not well, time is of the essence. This is especially true in the case of land borders.

Then, once intercepted and situation apparently resolved, the interceptors will almost invariably remain as shepherd until the aircraft, now identified as X-Ray has landed at the designated aircraft.

Far safer to follow such procedures to a conclusion.

20th Jul 2017, 05:35
I always carry a hand transmitter when I fly. Licensed ham, amateur extra level in the US + an equivalent Japanese license. Some transmitters can broadcast on aviation frequencies, though I am not sure about the legality of those - probably depends on the country and whether or not you have a license there.

Couldn't an ACARS or other data message be sent to HQ then telephoned to ATC by someone on the ground? The 777 has something like 3 VHF radios and probably 3 VHF antennas as well, but there are also the HF antennas and radios which should be able to contact somebody, somewhere.

My confidence in Asian pilots is very low. I've been running a training program for the last 5 years trying to teach Asian pilots how to deal with this kind of problem (Fixation, poor crew coordination etc). I wish I could get them all to come to my course to avoid stuff like this incident.

It seems very unlikely that all radios and antennas could fail in midflight.

21st Jul 2017, 19:41
"Couldn't ACARS msg have been sent.." Do we know it wasn't ? What's been published so far certainly doesn't justify your blanket slating of Asian pilots. Come on! And trying to cart a transceiver round a long haul route guarantees confiscation/encounters with snotty jobsworths on all continents. What we do know is lots of people trying a bit too hard to be helpful by talking but not listening. Shades of an interception over North Sea a few months ago where the intercepted aircraft's responses on 121.5 went apparently unheard while events escalated and everyone got shouty.

22nd Jul 2017, 08:21
The 777 has something like 3 VHF radios

Standard fit would probably be something like 3 VHF radios, 2 HF, Satcom voice, Datalink ( so ACARs and possibly CPDLC via either VHF or Satcom depending on circumstances)....and probably an unknown number of mobile phones onboard on the average sector, some of which are probably on the flight deck.....:E

I'm not sure adding an "brick" adds much in the way of redundancy if you want to initiate a conversation with someone, and if you're not listening you're not listening........................

22nd Jul 2017, 12:57
Im more interested to know what combination of hardware/software faults/failures cand remove all comms reception form a modern commercial airliner that has "3 VHF radios, 2 HF, Satcom voice, Datalink ( so ACARs and possibly CPDLC via either VHF or Satcom depending on circumstances)".

That should be a significant cause for concern.

22nd Jul 2017, 13:17
TBH given the redundancy I'd be really darned surprised if it was that complex a failure that actually it took out every channel of transmission, including "typing"...Might be that the balloon went up too quickly, so to speak, for the crew to be able to work their way through more obscure options such as HF, perhaps via a phone patch, or ACARS ..Be interested to hear the full story.

bia botal
8th Aug 2017, 18:28

AMU failure caused by a fault in the 629 Bus!

8th Aug 2017, 20:53
Presumably during daylight, the crew could communicate with the interceptors via hand signals - what would be the protocol for a night flight?

Well, there is always the mandatory torch and morse ...

8th Aug 2017, 20:59
In certain countries, unless you are a licenced pilot or Air Traffic Controller, in the course of your duties, using a transmitter on ATC frequencies is illegal, may even be illegal to own such a transmitter, not sure about that. Usually only listening is allowed.

Ummm ... *legally* it is not just the pilot that is licensed (you need a FRTOL or equivalent) ... but also the installation. In *theory* using a hand held transmitter in a plane is not a licensed installation.

That said, I suspect if you had a total radio failure, no one would complain if you used a handheld. One old bag of crap I used to fly always had an Icom handheld by the co-pilots seat, as both boxes had a habit of going off just when you needed them.

8th Aug 2017, 21:11
It seems very unlikely that all radios and antennas could fail in midflight.

If I had to take a blind guess ... I'd say it is far more likely that the problem was not with the radios themselves, but with the audio selector ... you can even route the audio to the speaker if your headsets fail ... and of course there are more than enough mic's to choose from ... however, if the ACP is hosed, all bets are off.

9th Aug 2017, 05:57
Can't they use their cellphones once they get low enough?

9th Aug 2017, 10:54
I am aware of a 777 incident quite a few years ago where all VHF, HF and Satcom communications were lost. 7600 was then selected on the transponder. On every frequency that was selected there was an unusual background hum in both pilots' headset. The same hum was there even when no frequency was selected. After 10 minutes of trying numerous different frequencies on all three boxes and Satcom the copilot could smell electrical burning and then saw a few wisps of smoke.

The smoke was coming from the copilot's hand mic on the right fuselage stowage. The side stowage mics are very rarely used.(Anyone remember on the 747 they used to be so emphatic in the scan checks that the mic had to be stowed facing the right way round?) Anyway this one was too hot to touch and the plastic surround was actually melting. When the mic jack was unplugged from the socket all the radios worked normally and contact with ATC was resumed.

It was an interesting lesson that what was clearly a massive short from the copilot's hand mic took out all the radios and not just the frequency that the copilot's transmit selector was set to. This would suggest some interrelationship between the bus bars of different radios.

9th Aug 2017, 12:42
Naive question: Why shouldn't a NORDO fly out their clearance and land, at ZRH? That's what I was taught to do and have taught students as standard IFR lost comms procedure. They must have offered or volunteered to land at Stuttgart, a quieter place.But if you are NORDO and enter VFR conditions, I believe you are suppose to continue VFR and land ASAP.

Less Hair
9th Aug 2017, 13:04
They were in the process to be handed over to Skyguide (Swiss ATC) that controls parts of southern Germany as well. Skyguide refused to accept them without established contact. Continuing to Zürich was no option from that point.

10th Aug 2017, 09:23
Most of the hand held radios that operate on the dual frequency bands claimed for these radios are amateur radio frequency modulation. My understanding is that aircraft VHF & UHF is audio modulation. So unless the hand held radios are AM, communication with ATC and other aircraft will not be possible.
In my flying days, I carried an ATC compatible VHF AM transceiver. I also am a licensed amateur with a hand held FM radio that I would never have considered ATC suitable.

10th Aug 2017, 15:23
It was an interesting lesson that what was clearly a massive short from the copilot's hand mic took out all the radios and not just the frequency that the copilot's transmit selector was set to. This would suggest some interrelationship between the bus bars of different radios.

And a frightening lesson as well, given the effort we (engineers) put into doing failure mode and effects analysis of aircraft systems. Having one of a redundant set of systems take out all function isn't supposed to happen. I'm guessing that the one bad mic dragged the entire audio control system down with it instead of triggering some sort of isolation/protection on that input (a breaker of sorts).

This also brings up the subject of an old thread: Adapting headsets with one connector type to another system. While I'm not going to step in and tell people not to do it, this is one possible consequence of an unapproved mod.

11th Aug 2017, 02:01
None of you guys picked up on the AMU comment a page back did you...😎

15th Aug 2017, 15:10
I saw it. I wasn't sure whether that was a hypothetical (what might have happened) or if there was some evidence of an actual fault on KAL 917.

If there is some indication that this actually happened, and that failure was deemed to be extremely improbable during certification, this means that the fleet is safe for another 10^9 hours.:rolleyes: