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Commercial airline triggering fighter response

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Commercial airline triggering fighter response

Old 12th Jan 2022, 21:33
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Blighty
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Commercial airline triggering fighter response

Every now and again, pilots of a civilian commercial airline flying on a normal route screw up. In the event of ATC being unable to positively identify an aircraft, this may cause ATC to get a little nervous and make a call to the local air force base.
If this inability to identify is because pilots didn't contact ATC on entering airspace, and didn't answer calls from ATC to identify themselves, which then triggers a fighter or two being sent up to have a look.... would a commercial airline expect to get a bill in the post from a country's air force for the cost of this if it was due to pilot screw-up rather than (for example) radio malfunction ? Years ago at university, I remember friends getting billed for triggering the smoke alarms and the fire brigade after having a cigarette, so the principle seems to exist... :-)

Note - I am explicitly NOT trying to reference any particular incident, pilot or airline - just wondering how this kind of thing is handled
davidjohnson6 is online now  
Old 13th Jan 2022, 08:01
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Join Date: Feb 2001
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Not sure if a bill gets presented but from the military’s POV the costs could at least in part be justified under “training”.

We certainly used to perform practice QRA (i.e. Air Defence) scrambles back in the olden, Cold War days, a bit of a “press to test” to check out reaction time, procedures etc….
wiggy is offline  
Old 13th Jan 2022, 11:22
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Join Date: Mar 2001
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In the past every now and then we were asked if we would agree for a practice intercept on a normal routine line flight. And usually we allowed that, providing they switched off their transponder so not to trigger a TCAS event which we would have to follow. That doesn't happena anymore apparently. Probably just as well, someone would of course take videos and pictures with his smartphone and plaster it all over the worlds media.

That said, before an intercept happens, it really takes some times. At least over here in Germany first ATCOs try to reach the plane on the last known frequency, on the new one (it usually happens with a frequency change), and of course on guards for quite a long time. Next they inform the armed forces, who then try to reach the plane on guard as well while the fighters are scrambled. If that doesn't work an intercept happens and that usually wakes up the crew very fast. No idea if any bill is presented to the airline, but there will be reports and reprimands for sure and if it happens too often an airline might lose its access to that airspace or end up on the EU black list.
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