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FR4978 ATH-VNO diverted, escorted to Minsk, alleged bomb threat – but was it?

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FR4978 ATH-VNO diverted, escorted to Minsk, alleged bomb threat – but was it?

Old 3rd Jun 2021, 12:37
  #261 (permalink)  
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I did read the transcript again:

Pilot:09:39:30: RYR 1TZ Any adverts?

ATC: RYR 1TZ Standby, waiting for the information.

Pilot: Could you say again that I have to call for the airport that authorities ...(unreadable) to divert to..

ATC: RYR 1TZ I read you THREE, say again please.

Pilot:09:39:57: Radar, RYR 1TZ .

ATC : RYR 1TZ ,Go.

Pilot: Can you say again the IATA code of the airport that authorities recommended us to divert to?

ATC: RYR 1TZ roger, standby please.

Pilot: OK, I give you (unreadable) can you say again IATA code of the airport that authorities have recommended us to divert to?

ATC: RYR 1TZ Standby.

Pilot: Standby, Roger.

ATC :09:41:00: RYR 1TZ .

Pilot: Go ahead.

ATC: IATA code is MSQ.

Pilot: can you say again please?


Pilot: MSQ, thanks.

Pilot: 09:41:58: RYR 1TZ Again, this recommendation to divert to Minsk where did it come from?Where did it come from?Company? Did it come from departure airport authorities or arrival airport authorities?

ATC: RYR 1TZ this is our recommendations.
They were not told to fly to Minsk, they were recommended by an ATC who probably was at gun point with Lukashenko's KGB.
The subtleties of 'told' vs 'recommended' are important here.

Again consider this: you're flying, the only person you're talking to says you have a bomb on board and you should turn for Minsk - imagine you then say "no thanks, we're going to fly NEAR to where we've been told we shouldn't go", the bomb goes off and you somehow survive? What sort of reception do you think you'd receive?

Not saying it entered their heads (or that it would enter mine at the time) but turning away from the perceived threat location towards somewhere you're being enticed to seems pretty reasonable to me. More importantly, until now, it seems that no-one or very few have considered that ATC could be co-opted into abetting an act of terrorism. Until this fades from collective memory, you can be certain the next crew in this situation might consider the potential political interference in the situation more critically and make a different choice.

The one bit I don't get is how they had no idea how to contact their own ops department - 100km or so way from home?
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 13:01
  #262 (permalink)  
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Why didn't they verify this "recommendation" with Vilnius control? They were well within coverage, and Vilnius is , at least to me, immensely more trustworthy than ATC in a dictatorship.
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 14:06
  #263 (permalink)  
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Oxford dictionary

Learn to pronounce
the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

I think that the use of the word terrorism is the correct word to use, especially from the prospective of Protasevich.
The transcript clearly shows that Belarus was in violation of the Montreal conversation of 1971. Clearly the EU had to take action to avoid such an event from happening again. At the end the day the EU ultimate responsible is the safeguard its citizens. And knowing this the EU was left with very few other options then to close the Belarusian airspace. What other options did they have?
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 14:23
  #264 (permalink)  
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All these Monday-morning quarterback pilots here. Amazing stuff.
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 17:03
  #265 (permalink)  
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hoistop (thanks for the follow-up question)

Three quick points in reply. They're about language, legalities, and realities.

As to language, let it be recalled that although English and French are widely regarded as the most international languages, and although English has a 'standard' role in civil aviation globally, there isn't a monopoly on comprehension. In fact, in many situations I have encountered in the realm of civil aviation organizations with a global focus, non-native English speakers very often have provided much better and more meaningful clarity than otherwise. (I don't want to launch into more of a rant about the decline, or disappearance, of foreign language requirements in U.S. secondary and post-secondary schools.... but I could, rant about it, I mean.)

Now, to the main point of this, the legalities. I think one would have to be well-versed - and probably well-versed indeed - in the European Commission rules, statutes and regulations, as well as the "interagency" set-up as between EASA and the EC, and possibly other components of the institutional governmental structures, to give a definitive answer. Whether or not the current Safety Directive is legally binding -- we can read its language and draw our own conclusion, that it is a stronger recommendation that the one that came before it. But: is this form of language in the SD the form in which something mandatory needs to be expressed, in accordance with how the EC, EASA structure is organized? I don't know the answer to that. Maybe this is as mandatory, in terms of language, as EASA is allowed to get. And maybe it actually means a more mandatory instruction than the simple words suggest. (I missed that particular day in law school when so many of my peers and predecessors obviously were instructed never to say, "I don't know.")

But at the same time..... I think in context, the SD approaches a mandatory instruction. And I'm not relying on anything in the structure set up as between EASA and the EC, the EU. Instead I'm reading the SD in context - in the context of the previous SD; in context of the very specific reference to the investigation being started by the ICAO Council; and in light of what, as a non-pilot, I still feel confident is a broad and emphatic consensus among global civil aviation professionals that the actions of the Belarus government in this situation were unprecedented and completely wrongful. It is almost like saying, Mike Tyson. You know, everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth. Every EASA rule and process is well and good, until something like this has occurred. And so regardless of the specific words written in the current SD, count this SLF/atty as reading - and understanding it - as a requirement on the part of Member States.

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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 17:11
  #266 (permalink)  
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WillowRun 6-3

"And so regardless of the specific words written in the current SD, count this SLF/atty as reading - and understanding it - as a requirement on the part of Member States."

What sanctions do you think would be levied against member states who disregard the requirement (if indeed it is one) ?
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Old 3rd Jun 2021, 19:38
  #267 (permalink)  
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I'm starting from the premise that the EASA directive probably is a compromise between an absence of explicit legal authority on one hand, but a strong intention to stretch what authority that does exist perhaps further than it has been applied previously. (This process - stretching existing legal authority to apply to a situation not previously encountered and not expressly covered by what's on the books - happens pretty commonly in U.S. legal processes, subject to due diligence beforehand and good faith, of course (see, e.g., Fed. Rule of Civil Procedure 11)).

If by "sanctions" we are referring to the type of penalties, barriers to doing business, and the like which are imposed by (say) the U.S. against (say) Iran, I don't imagine the EASA or EC has authority to do that.

However, a lot could depend on what happens in ICAO - specifically the investigation which the Council delegated to the Secretariat, having invoked Article 55(e) of the Chicago Convention of 1944. (By the way, are you aware of any prior instance of Art. 55(e) having been invoked by the Council?) If the investigation produces a set of facts which is broadly accepted as pretty conclusive or definite by a large majority of global civil aviation officialdom (CAAs, pilot organizations, Eurocontrol, safety-focused groups, and certainly the diplomatic corps of Member States of ICAO with seats on the Council, and Member States more generally within ICAO), that leads to one sort of next step (in my view). Even though not in the category of a conventionally defined sanction, a clear set of facts emerging from the investigation by the Secretariat would likely cause Belarus to become a kind of world civil aviation pariah. What practical effects this would have, may be unclear. But restricting overflights and barring entry to airspace of Member States seem accessible as a consequences, if not "sanctions" in the usual meaning.

Commonly observed in situations where rules have comparatively minor importance, or actually minor importance, is the observation that "rules are made to be broken." Is this not a situation though, where whatever the formal legal structure by and through which EASA exists and operates, those legal structure rules are made to be stretched in this incident? Stated differently, are there any pilot groups, or individuals with bona fide pilot experience and credentials, who would let this incident fade away, with just rhetoric and, ultimately a shrug?
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Old 4th Jun 2021, 00:11
  #268 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by WillowRun 6-3 View Post
Stated differently, are there any pilot groups, or individuals with bona fide pilot experience and credentials, who would let this incident fade away, with just rhetoric and, ultimately a shrug?
Sadly, I fear that this inevitably will become the conclusion of this piratical incident. The potential consequences of responding in anything much more than token gestures have become so great that there is a distinct possibility that the reaction will create more mayhem than the original act. This applies particularly when a super-power is fomenting the trouble in the first place. Thus anything of any real substance rarely happens.
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Old 4th Jun 2021, 11:04
  #269 (permalink)  
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Or you could have gone to your alternate Kaunas, neither close to where the "bomb" might have exploded and half the distance of going to Minsk.

What happen to common sense?
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Old 4th Jun 2021, 11:39
  #270 (permalink)  
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It's a bit disappointing that American companies are still crossing?
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Old 4th Jun 2021, 13:36
  #271 (permalink)  
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The EU has introduced a ban on the overflight of EU airspace, and on access to EU airports, by Belarusian carriers of all kinds.
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Old 4th Jun 2021, 23:38
  #272 (permalink)  
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EASA Safety Directive 2021-02

EASA has posted this comment on its website with regard to the Safety Directive:"On June 2, 2021, after consultation with EASA Member States and the European Commission, EASA issued Safety Directive 2021-02.[/color][color=#555555] The Safety Directive (SD) calls on the National Competent Authorities in EASA member states to instruct aircraft operators with their principal place of business in their territories that conducting operations in Belarus airspace (FIR Minsk) is no longer allowed, unless required for safe operations in unforeseen circumstances.

The safety objective of the SD is to reduce the potential risk to passengers and crews that could arise from operations in this airspace. This follows the incident involving Ryanair flight FR4978 on May 23, 2021.

Regrettably the Safety Directive, introduced for the safety of passengers and crews, brings additional cost and work for the airlines, many of which are represented by IATA.

Safety remains a key driver of the activities and the mission of EASA in providing safe air travel for EU citizens in Europe and worldwide."

Link - http://www.easa.europa.eu/newsroom-a...ective-2021-02
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Old 5th Jun 2021, 09:27
  #273 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by 70 Mustang View Post
What must be remembered is the hard fact that Ryanair, on the whole does not promote or allow “independent” thinking amongst the flight crew.
Now we are getting somewhere ...
Getting to the foundation, or the "root cause", of the rational why the crew followed "instructions" and went to Minsk.
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Old 5th Jun 2021, 09:42
  #274 (permalink)  
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They were tricked into it.
Please don't make this an anti FR thread. This is far too serious and not limited to FR.
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Old 5th Jun 2021, 13:07
  #275 (permalink)  
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It's Ryanair. They get hard when they have an opportunity to throw crap at them.

I'm sure a BA or Lufthansa crew would have done the same. You don't expect ATC to trick you and in Europe we really aren't used to these political scenarios that potentially play a part in the decision making process.

Last edited by Banana Joe; 6th Jun 2021 at 10:32. Reason: Typo.
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Old 10th Jun 2021, 03:28
  #276 (permalink)  
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shared reality

What on earth would you expect Vilnius to say besides we have no idea what they're talking about?

You're talking to folks who approved this routing and have less information than you do.

At the pointy end it's still your aircraft, isn't it?

Last edited by Turbine70; 10th Jun 2021 at 03:43.
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Old 10th Jun 2021, 05:38
  #277 (permalink)  
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That's my point, as PIC it's ultimately "my" aircraft, so in order to make as good a decision as possible, I need as much info as possible.
Hence calling Vilnius.
If Vilnius would have confirmed the threat, then it would have, at least to me, been credible. If they "would have no idea what they're talking about", then I would have been much more sceptical as to the credibility of the threat. At the end of the day, with a bomb threat you land as soon as possible, if not VNO due to threat, then KAU (weather permitting).
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Old 10th Jun 2021, 07:17
  #278 (permalink)  
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Well. Another occurrence of a situation like that happened over Algeria a couple of weeks later (I do not know of the real reason, as not the airline neither the states involved have released any official piece of inforlation). BTW, thread about this was quickly closed after I wrote what has been made public by the union reps from the airline. I would appreciate to know why?

The difference in the way it was handle by the crew is probably this: this major EU airline has a fairly reputed security dept, hooked with the country's services. When made aware of the threat, the crew contacted operations via satcom. The answer was: threat not credible. Flight was continued against "ATC" orders.

In this matter, the crew can hardly make a decision by itself...
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Old 10th Jun 2021, 08:04
  #279 (permalink)  

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Originally Posted by shared reality View Post
, if not VNO due to threat, then KAU (weather permitting).
It's an excellent idea when a threat is geo-located to VNO to cross the trigger latitude on the way up north towards Kaunas.

No. It's not your aeroplane. It's the aeroplane of mothers and children of those seated behind your itchy back.
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Old 15th Jun 2021, 16:03
  #280 (permalink)  
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I ran across an interesting article about the treatment the crew got in Belarus. It seems they were coerced into making false statements about the “voluntary” diversion..

Telegraph article
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