View Full Version : BMI Intercepted by French?

11th Aug 2003, 20:52
It would appear that G- BMDT was intercepted this morning by a French jet.

Quite easily done, this is the third interception I have heard on 121.5 whilst operating during the last six months.

Probably would not happen on a weekend as the French Air force are busy "Going Down In Flames"

Electric Sky
11th Aug 2003, 22:32
Of course he means G-MIDT

ES ;)

11th Aug 2003, 22:41
Was it r/t failure or failure to keep a listening watch ? Still happens too often and in the present day security climate it just ain't a good idea. Come on guys, if you're flying in busy European airspace and you don't hear anything for five minutes or more doesn't it tell you that something might be amiss?

CarltonBrowne the FO
11th Aug 2003, 23:51
When I've got a longish flight with nothing to do, I like to turn the second VHF box to 121.5 and keep an ear open... but it never ceases to amaze me how many captains would rather tune it to an ATIS that won't actually come through for another 200 miles... :rolleyes:

12th Aug 2003, 03:08
Dogma, you would then be able to add to your post that the pilot sensibly requested a frequency from 121.5 , as the one he was given was incorrect and he couldn't find Reims on any of the other frequencies he had/knew. Bit of good thinking to contact 121.5, as they solved the problem immediately as they were already aware of the situation.

Hand Solo
12th Aug 2003, 03:44
Come on guys, if you're flying in busy European airspace and you don't hear anything for five minutes or more doesn't it tell you that something might be amiss?

Errr, no. Five minutes of silence is not uncommon at some times of the day. Ten minutes maybe I'll start worrying. Besides, since when has maintaining a listening watch prevented you from being intercepted in France? My company has had several incidences of aircraft being intercepted by the French despite being in normal radio contact with ATC. Some were even told in advance they were going to be intercepted whether they liked it or not.

12th Aug 2003, 05:50
The pilot sensibly requested a frequency from 121.5 , as the one he was given was incorrect and he couldn't find Reims on any of the other frequencies he had/knew.

I have done likewise in the past, unlucky really.

When in France, have your charts out and listen to 21.5 all the time.


12th Aug 2003, 06:06
Unless of course you are within VHF range of the all important British radio show; The Practice Pan. A very large amount of listeners turn the radio off when the show airs. Pity really.

12th Aug 2003, 16:57
Doesn't everyone put 121.5 on box 2 (or 3 ;) ) ??? That's basic airmanship. And what's wrong with "Bordeaux, radio check" - takes about 2 seconds and confirms all is well with the world.

I'm sure the comments about interceptions when in normal contact are probably for the benefit of the French airforce - a bit of practice ready for those who don't keep a listening watch or have their charts to hand.......:hmm:

I am dumbfounded that all airlines don't demand it in SOP's since 911. Can you imagine being intercepted at NIGHT and just seeing a nav light very close.
If you (a) don't come up on 121.5 immediately i.e. not having to dial it up etc and (b) start to make evasive manouvers, things could get very sticky, very quickly.

Just monitor 121.5 and do a radio check if it's been quite for a few minutes ............ it's not rocket science!

12th Aug 2003, 17:21
Hi All;
This is amazing stuff to me....first I've ever heard of such a thing. Excuse my stupidity but what do they do when they "intercept you"? Shepperd you in once they ascertain that all is OK?

Is all this just post 9/11 or has it always gone on? Certainly would make you feel more secure if you felt the airforce are watching all that is going on up there along with ATC.


12th Aug 2003, 17:38
Just for info, my company has been intercepted once by a french fighter in ... IMC. They failed to contact the next sector (or ATC forgot to call them) but they were still able to listen communications. The fact, it seems that the french air force take any chance to practice interception as they even didn't call the company for a SELCAL. It's so true that I heard once ATC calling a AC if he would accept to be intercepted. And more, it seems for us it was a sort of revange as we had 2 airmiss with french fighters who failed to keep separation. Then don't worry and just enjoy the view.

12th Aug 2003, 18:05
How can he be so sure? It may have been just a Mirage! :p :p

You splitter
12th Aug 2003, 20:37
It may be that he did nothing wrong and radio contact was maintained. My company was intercepted 4 times thru French Airspace in a period of one month.

ATC just announced 'you are to be intercepted'.

ASR's filed and the decision was taken to file as loss of seperation as the crew were given no choice in the matter. They were told it was for training and ID. :*

13th Aug 2003, 00:14
OK....but what does interception mean or involve? I am only curious but if I am sounding security alerts by asking asking such a question, then just say so and I will shut up. It just interests me 's all :O

13th Aug 2003, 06:33
A little less condemnation might (again) be necessary here. The FAF are in the habit of making practice intercepts, whether the a/c on the receiving end likes it or not, or whether theyve done anything 'wrong' or not. Theyve been asked to stop it, as its potentially dangerous, but won't. Plus ca change.

15th Aug 2003, 19:12
Frankly, most of the posts on this thread miss the point: it's actually reassuring to see that the French Air Force keeps on top of the post 9/11 security situation by practicing intercepts on commercial a/c, whether they like it or not. Remember, when we are up there in French airspace, THEY are the police. Also, that may teach some operators to keep a listening watch on 121.5 sometimes! Then again, if flight crew dislike the sight of a Mirage 2000 on their wingtip, maybe, just maybe, they're in the wrong line of work...

P.S.; just as flight crew need to practice autolands every now and then, likewise fighter pilots need to hone their skills at real-life intercepts.

Flap 5
19th Aug 2003, 01:24
1. Why can't military aircraft practice intercepts on other military aircraft, rather than concerning passengers on board commercial aircraft?

2. What notice would a hijacker take of being intercepted? That is: what is the point of the military intercepting commercial aircraft? They can hardly pull them over to check their licence can they? Shooting down a commercial aircraft would kill everyone on board and a substantial number of people on the ground. Is that better or worse than allowing an aircraft to continue? I think, in their own words, it just gives them a raison d'etre.

19th Aug 2003, 01:43
If it was BMI he obviously wasn't avaoiding a CB. They fly straight through them don't they?


19th Aug 2003, 04:13
Ouch that hurt - never an accusation that you could make of Nigel! ;)

(and considering the AAIB investigation, in rather poor taste)

ATC Watcher
20th Aug 2003, 00:00
`True story :
B737 not talking to anyone since 20 min N of Paris ( stuck on a wrongly dialed frequency ) ., one month aftetr 9/11
2 Mirages sent to intercept . When the Capt sees the first Mirage, ( the other one was behind in position, ) he veers 60 degrees off track and starts diving, comes up on 121,5 and shouts, XXX, we just have ad an airprox with a fighter North of Paris ! ( he descended nearly 10.000 ft with the 2 Mirages right up his tail.) A Portuguese 737 capt (who was also monitoring 121,5 ) reply, XXX with your position , maybe you should call Paris or Reims.. .
Then comes up a voice with s French accent : White and ... 737 , 22 NM south of Cambrai, what are your intentions ?
Ah ! Paris ! replies our pilot, we just had a airmiss with one fighter ..
The voice replied : Sir, I am the fighter ....
The rest is history, but as this was heard in all ATC units below ( who monitor 121,5 ) we kept saying ourselves that the guy was extremely lucky. If this had been in the USA it could have ended up differently..

20th Aug 2003, 04:58
Bad taste oh I don't know.
let me paraphrase some RT over Germany a couple of months ago on my command route training.
Ahead is a line of clouds with embedded CB's on radar. Not sure if we would clear it we ask for 20deg right.
Behind is a BMIbaby 737 same level same track.

controller:babyxxx do you wish 20 right
baby: no thanks were VMC on top
controller:well the speedbird ahead same level and track is avoiding
baby:its ok we've got instrument ratings
(I haven't said anything as its training)

we avoid (upwind) a cb which topped out about 500' above our level. Knowing the baby would definately hit it we waited in amusement for the call.

baby:request 10 left due weather.

ie downwind and barely missing it. I wonder did their passengers have a smooth ride after the smart-arsed comments? What do they teach at BMI? Anyone know?


Hand Solo
20th Aug 2003, 05:57
I'm sure the crew of that US spyplane 'intercepted' by the Chinese air force a year or two ago would have something to say about the risks of being in close proximity to a fighter.

21st Aug 2003, 09:47
Do military sqwaks show up on TCAS?

I guess not, as you'd be obliged to climb and dive in response to the RAs......?

21st Aug 2003, 11:55
As of a few months ago (maybe 6 or so), the fighters switch the Mode C off before they intercept to avoid the civilian having an RA.

23rd Aug 2003, 19:36
ATC Watcher - methinks your post shows lots of professionnalism on the part of the fighter jocks, and a clear lack of basic airmanship on the part of the 737 flight crew.

First, in the post-9/11 situation, they "forget" to call the right frequency when approaching Paris, then when they belatedly see a Mirage off their wingtip, they interpret it as an airmiss instead of an intercept - without first wondering what the fighter might be doing there in the first place...

Then they dive 10,000' and turn 60 degrees (I wonder if they were cleared by ATC for that "evasive" manoeuvre), which surely must have created an increased risk of collision with the French Mirages. Funny how I recall from my PPL days that when intercepted, DON'T do anything of the sort - actually, don't do anything unless told so by the intercepting aircraft!

Apparently, the French Air Force/Navy don't need any more practice intercepts on airliners; they seem to be getting enough "real" ones!

23rd Aug 2003, 21:45
My lot have had two that I know of. One was over Switzerland and one over France.

Neither had 121.5 selected.

Personally I use the ACARS to get any en route weather and keep 21.5 on whenever I can. Most of the time during the summer months you can just keep 21.5 selected as you don't need to get any weather - you can see for 200 miles in cavok! (Ops manual states only "relevant weather" need be recorded on the plog).

We followed Air xxxxxx (Spanish Charter outfit) up from "down south" the other week. They failed to talk to Brest and London and were intercepted by two TCAS blips over southern England. So at least we are on the ball in UK as well. I was surprised how long it took though before we heard the RAF on 21.5 . I would have thought they would have met the Air xxxxxx at the UIR boundary.

All ended fine with the Air xxxxx apologising for their finger trouble and the Brylcreme Boys peeling off home for tea and medals all round.

ATC Watcher
25th Aug 2003, 23:59
Fougamagister ( nice name, my first jet trainer ) , yes the Mil guys were above average this time ( I have also seen much worse unfortunately ), the 737 guy made a beautiful heroic report of it later in the local press, but that is another story.

We wondered if TCAS did not play a role there, but going down 10.000ft with 5ooo ft/min, you have to end the dive yourself sooner or later , or something else will do it for you.

I hate to imagine a similar situation on the Pakistan/ Afghan / Indian border.... or even in the US of A one month after 9/11 as it was.:sad: