Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Flight Deck Forums > Rumours & News
Reload this Page >

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

Rumours & News Reporting Points that may affect our jobs or lives as professional pilots. Also, items that may be of interest to professional pilots.

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

Old 23rd May 2021, 18:46
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Rockytop, Tennessee, USA
Posts: 5,896
Apparently the 'hijackers' got off in Minsk.
Airbubba is online now  
Old 23rd May 2021, 18:48
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: scotland
Age: 40
Posts: 132
Well, it looks like I'll be avoiding Belarusian airspace for a while.

This has to be one of the worst examples of an old school dictator still thinking it is the 1970's.

I just hope that people take the right action and not allow this to be a prelude to war.
fatmanmedia is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 19:02
  #23 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: BRU
Posts: 68
Landed in Vilnius half an hour ago. I'm sure media will report soon from passengers.
Profit Max is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 19:18
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Manchester - EGCC
Posts: 16
Ryanair have tweeted the following:

MattGarner is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 19:53
  #25 (permalink)  
Ecce Homo! Loquitur...
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Peripatetic
Posts: 12,028

What has the reaction been?

It has been angry and it is growing.

The US ambassador to Belarus, Julie Fisher, tweeted that it was "abhorrent" Mr Lukashenko had faked a bomb threat and sent fighter jets to arrest a journalist.

Lithuania called for EU countries to jointly recommend that planes avoid Belarusian airspace, to summon Belarusian ambassadors, and to protest against the use of military aircraft to divert commercial flights.

European Council chairman Charles Michel said EU leaders would discuss "this unprecedented incident" on Monday at a Council summit and it would not "remain without consequences".

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this was a "serious and dangerous incident".

The UN's agency for civil aviation, ICAO, said it was concerned about an "apparent forced landing" which could be "in contravention of the Chicago Convention" which sets out the rules on airspace and aircraft safety.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: "Hijacking a civilian plane is an unprecedented act of state terrorism that cannot go unpunished."


We do not yet know the full details of this story but its implications could be huge.

There are questions about freedom of the air: how vulnerable may other flights be to this kind of behaviour? Some are already calling it an act of aggression or state terrorism, a form of hijacking. In how much danger were the passengers placed? What precedent may be set? Should flights be diverted away from Belarus airspace?

There are questions for international law: to what extent was this act unlawful, as many presume, and if so, what consequences should there be? There are questions about freedom of speech: will critics of other authoritarian regimes fear this could happen to them?

And there are questions for international diplomacy. Political figures across Europe have already called for the EU and Nato to intervene.

There are demands for further sanctions to be imposed on the government of Belarus, whose legitimacy is questioned by many in the West after disputed elections last year.

President Lukashenko is often described as Europe's last dictator. Will the word "pirate" now be added to his list of titles?
ORAC is online now  
Old 23rd May 2021, 20:44
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: on the way to sea
Posts: 249
EASA should forbid EU operated airplanes to enter Belarus airspace. Simple as that. And then the rest of the world should do the same.
kontrolor is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 21:02
  #27 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 14
They have to hand over the missing passenger.
Less Hair is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 21:15
  #28 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 196

Will this be treated as a "serious incident", to be investigated (and if so by whom - Irish AAIU, or Greeks/Lithuanians?).

Was it an EI-registered a/c?

Would be very interesting to see some hard facts published ASAP. I know others have touched on this, but crew decision to divert to Minsk is certainly interesting when one considers much greater proximity to Vilnius, I would like to see ATC transcripts, know facts of when did MiG appear, did crew see it, etc. etc.

Altogether a very shocking event, and I for one am surprised to see EU a/c still crossing Belorussian airspace some hours later.
KeyPilot is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 21:28
  #29 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: West Britain
Age: 71
Posts: 199
Michael O'Leary is uncharacteristically quiet.
BristolScout is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 21:29
  #30 (permalink)  

Rebel PPRuNer
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Toronto, Canada (formerly EICK)
Age: 48
Posts: 2,833

EI-reg: no. Polish reg.
ATC transcripts: LiveATC doesn't have coverage of the FIR. Not sure if there are any other sites listening for that airspace (other than various military operations of course)
Crew testimony may be slow in being forthcoming - Ryanair may not want to look like an involved party if it meant having to divert around Belarussian airspace indefinitely - would make VNO-KBP a bit awkward for one thing.

Flightradar claims their data indicates FR crew delayed descent
MarkD is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 21:36
  #31 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: UK
Posts: 196

Indeed, but as MarkD writes it is not in his interests to make noise about this. All it has cost him is $ few thousand in Jet A-1 and maintenance costs. He doesn't care about rule of law/human rights in Belarus. If Belorussian airspace gets closed to EU a/c, he stands to lose much more than the cost of the fuel on this one flight.
KeyPilot is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 21:49
  #32 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Riga
Posts: 5

You are right, but with the leadership of the country resorting to hijacking, what else must happen in order for some serious steps to be taken?!!
andrejsj is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 22:52
  #33 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: at the edge of the alps
Posts: 403
If the same crew took the plane to ATH their FDP would be quite formidable at 15+ hours.

It would be politicians' duty to take action and close Belarus airspace for EU planes. Sadly this is not going to happen as the EU unlike the US can't even be bothered to close airspace where live fighting is going on and leaves it to airlines to decide whether to fly there. This is not really surprising as the EU has decided it doesn't need one aviation safety authority for one level of safety but 27 national authorities torn between flight safety and promotion of aviation interpreting the same rules with wildly varying outcomes.

As pointed out airlines are not really interested as state hijackings don't rate high on the danger scale and re-routings are expensive which hurts even more in meagre times like these.
Alpine Flyer is offline  
Old 23rd May 2021, 23:20
  #34 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Asia
Posts: 1,285
The Captain has final authority over an aircraft’s operation, however in the event of a GENUINE hi jacking or bomb on board the local authorities would be justified in keeping the aircraft away from built up areas or potential targets and a forced diversion to a suitable facility would be in order.

This however, was state terrorism along the lines of a rogue state or 1980s Libya and needs to be dealt with seriously, as any similar action by an outlaw organisation would be. Making false bomb threats and unlawful interference in the operation of an aircraft just to start with.
krismiler is offline  
Old 24th May 2021, 00:49
  #35 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: EDLB
Posts: 224
As captain would you have taken the risk with a MIG in your window? As armchair pilot it is easy to ask for bold decisions.
You learn in flight school, if a fighter shows up and makes contact, you follow their and ATC instructions. That's exactly what they did.
EDLB is offline  
Old 24th May 2021, 01:04
  #36 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2,649
The maths are not completely adding up.
The "rumours are"
Disruption on board the flight, allegedly several Russian / Belarusian special forces created some safety concern with the cabin crew. Note these people did not continue the flight from Belarus to VNO after the Ryanair flight was released.

Bomb threat procedure (SOP) would NOT have been to have divert to a country "outside" the EU - that is ruled by an unstable mental leader Lukashenko, who has complete disregard for human rights, free speech or any freedom that does not present him as the "great" leader he himself perceives himself to be. In addition VNO airport was much closer then Minsk, so again diverting to Minsk would NOT have been SOP.

Furthermore any CREDIBLE Bomb threats should follow certain procedures and a certain "chain of command"
A Commander, unless he has seen a "bomb device" with his own eyes, and has some knowledge of explosive devices, is not the one who makes these decisions, if it is a credible "bomb threat" or not.

The only way the RYR flight can defend diverting to Minsk, would be that it was forced to change course due to an aggressive interception. The current Ryanair press release does not reflect any current information of this yet. I would assume they would be trying to keep this information confidential as long as they are able.

At what moment did the MIG show up? How many MIG's did show up. 2 - 3 more minutes straight ahead, and they would have been in Lithuanian airspace.

This was a hijack by air.

Unfortunately we do have similar "precedence" within Europe, when the airplane of the Bolivian president Evo Morales was forced to land in Vienna, as they believed Snowden was onboard.
That was both a forced diversion and search of the aircraft by the Austrian authorities. If they in fact was searching for Snowden, his life would / could have been in danger if he had been returned to the USA.

Then again Snowden was on the "right side" and if found should have been protected regardless. But we will never know what would have happen if he had been found.
2unlimited is online now  
Old 24th May 2021, 01:27
  #37 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Japan
Posts: 848
@2unlimited "The only way the RYR flight can defend diverting to Minsk, would be that it was forced to change course due to an aggressive interception. The current Ryanair press release does not reflect any current information of this yet."

The Ryanair press release also makes no mention of six +/- lost passengers.
jolihokistix is offline  
Old 24th May 2021, 04:15
  #38 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 2,649
The political problem we face here is that Lukashenko (Belarus) would not act like this without some sort of "approval" from Putin.

Whatever we think we are watching here now, could be the pre-text for a future invasion / annexation of the Baltics. This has always been one of Putin's long term goals, reunite the old Soviet states.

What happen after MH17? Not a lot.
What happen after invasion of Crimea, not a lot.
What happen after the UK poisoning attempts, not a lot.
Can we see a trend here now?

Putin has without being directly involved tested the waters, and watching the the re-action, or should we already now predict there will be complete in-action from either ICAO, EU or NATO, as nobody really wants to poke the "bear".

If only Belarus had oil like in the ME, the rest of the world would be truly outraged, instead we remain on the merry go around, trying to keep the bear content, so it won't attack us.
First action should be stopping Nord Stream 2, dependency on Russian energy, how dumb can you really be within Europe?

Russia are playing their "war games" with both Europe and UK, knowing they are all talk without a bite. It is embarrassing to watch, and having Trump for 4 years did not exactly help as he was clearly in some debts to Putin.
2unlimited is online now  
Old 24th May 2021, 04:40
  #39 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Outer ring of HEL
Posts: 381
So what horse did Russia have in this event? If there really were four Russian Spetznaz/FSB/OMON other special ops, why were they there and why taking action on behalf of Belarus?
Beamr is offline  
Old 24th May 2021, 04:46
  #40 (permalink)  

Only half a speed-brake
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Commuting home
Age: 43
Posts: 3,371
Pertinent to the discussion, some of the above mentioned "other ICAO guidance" happens to be the Warsaw Montrιal Convention (1971) Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, attached below.

Notable content relevant to the topic:

Article 1 para 1 provision (e)
Article 3
Article 4 para 2 both provisions (a) and (b)
Article 6
Article 14 para 1 - which signatory Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic did not accept (p. 19 of the pdf)

It's a short read but a lot of headache for Polish diplomacy.

Attached Files
File Type: pdf

Last edited by FlightDetent; 24th May 2021 at 13:37.
FlightDetent is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.