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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 24th May 2021, 05:20
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Western Europe used russian natural gas even in the cold war. In fact US installations are actually heated and powered by it. And funny enough, one of the main pipelines runs through Belarus providing a steady source of income for Lukashenko until NS 2 cuts the demand for that pipeline.

Personally i am against completing NS2 for the same reasons that we should tax domestically used Jet A1 the same as any other fuel including putting a CO2 price of at least €120 per ton of CO2 on it, but that is a completely different discussion. Geopolitical Belarus would be very much in favor of not completing NS2, we would strengthen Lukashenko with that.
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Old 24th May 2021, 05:29
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Without a doubt, VNO would've been the safer, quicker and easier destination to fly to. We won't know if this thought crossed the Commander's mind. If it did, and he was overruled by the MIG then this is a hijack. Hindsight is a beautiful thing but this was an occasion for 7500 and a mayday on 121.5.
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Old 24th May 2021, 05:37
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To those defending continuing to VNO - would you actually dare not to follow the instructions of an intercepting fighter jet, especially in the airspace of what is known as a genuine dictatorship?
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Old 24th May 2021, 06:16
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Meanwhile in Russia: "State Duma deputy Vyacheslav Lysakov called the arrest by the Belarusian authorities .... "a brilliant operation" of the country's special services."
So the Russians state it was a special ops mission, not a bomb threat mission.

Source: https://ria.ru/20210523/zaderzhanie-1733558011.html
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Old 24th May 2021, 06:30
  #45 (permalink)  
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Of course it was, considering that 4 KGB agents helped in the hijacking. Russia is, after all, a medium sized rogue state.
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Old 24th May 2021, 07:11
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sometimes I wonder if some of you are real pilots... can you please tell me where on anyone’s mind would be the 121,5 option, when you are “escorted” by a friendly looking plane carrying missiles?
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Old 24th May 2021, 07:42
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ICAO Annex 2 Rules of the Air

2. Action by intercepted aircraft

2.1 An aircraft which is intercepted by another aircraft shall immediately:
a) follow the instructions given by the intercepting aircraft, interpreting and responding to visual signals…

The civil airliner squawked 7700 not 7500.

Self explanatory.
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Old 24th May 2021, 08:18
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Old advice of not arguing with anyone who is holding a loaded gun to your head. Crew under the most immense pressure imaginable acted safely and professionally. Highly commendable. But, hey, it's why we get all this dosh eh ?
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Old 24th May 2021, 08:41
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In my day, a military aircraft formating was an interception, no question. The only acceptable response was to follow instructions (apart from the West Berlin air corridors, but that's ancient history). Duty of care to passengers over-rides any political considerations.
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Old 24th May 2021, 09:04
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In the US after 9/11 setting 7500 and refusing to follow instructions would mean an invitation to getting shot down. Maybe that was also on the skipper's mind.
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Old 24th May 2021, 09:04
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The Latvian carrier AiBaltic has already rerouted the flights Riga-Tbilisi and Riga-Odessa, so that they didn’t fly over Belorussia. According to the Latvian Minister of Transportation, Tālis Linkaitis, a full cessation of any flights between Latvia and Belorussia is most likely to happen in a matter of days!
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Old 24th May 2021, 09:07
  #52 (permalink)  
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Clearly this was air piracy by any credible definition of the term. I also agree with 2unlimited's take on this - he is completely correct. No one is going to do anything about this. The Russian state and its security apparatus is increasingly emboldened - you just need to see the attempted murder of Alexei Navalny and his subsequent imprisonment on trumped-up charges. The crew of the Ryanair flight are just like any one of us - the captain had absolutely no choice but to cooperate with the authorities of the country they were flying over and obey the instructions of the accompanying fighter plus associated fighter controller. They are merely the fall guys here. My guess is the West will do what it always does - huff, puff, promise to blow the house down but in the end send a fax to the UN to say they are displeased. I don't imagine the Russians are quaking in their boots.
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Old 24th May 2021, 09:13
  #53 (permalink)  
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Indeed and in fact MOL has come out with the strongest possible statement:

“This was a case of state-sponsored hijacking, state-sponsored piracy. I can’t say much about it because the EU authorities and NATO are dealing with it at the moment.”

He said: “It appears the intent of the authorities was to remove a journalist and his travelling companion. We believe there were some KGB agents offloaded at the airport as well.”
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Old 24th May 2021, 09:32
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Alpine Flyer

In a short statement aired on Sky News, O'Leary praised the "crews".
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Old 24th May 2021, 10:25
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There is one big question that needs to be answered, which does not seem to be provided any facts or evidence so far.
Was the aircraft actually intercepted by fighter jets?
or did they get a warning through ATC that they would be intercepted unless they diverted to Minsk?
The "official story" is that they got "escorted" to Minsk so at what stage did the MIG encounter the RYR flight?

Did the RYR flight start diverting without any interception or any sight of the MIG, that is the interesting question.

Where are the photos of the intercepting aircraft, considering there would be passengers with phones able to take photos.

Are there Radar images, I would think there would be good radar coverage in this region.

Part of the statement reads: "Flight FR4978 turned east to Minsk shortly before it reached the Lithuanian border. Greece and Lithuania put the number of passengers on board at 171.

In a statement, Ryanair said the crew had been "notified by Belarus (Air Traffic Control) of a potential security threat on board and were instructed to divert to the nearest airport, Minsk".

The important question is did they act on these ATC instructions alone, where was the MIG (fighter jet) when the Ryanair flight turned towards Minsk.

There are not many countries in the European region you should know that you should "NOT" divert to unless you are forced by a fighter jet, and one of them is Belarus, if you are up to date with your current affairs news cycle.

As if it was verbal threat and instructions given by the Belarussian ATC, they would have been in Lithuanian airspace before any MIG would have been be able to intercept them. It does seem from the current reporting that the MIG escorted them to Minsk, but what we need to know is when exactly was the contact between the Ryanair aircraft and the fighter jet (MIG)

If they actually was not intercepted and diverted because of an ATC instruction (Order) then you would need to question the Situational Awareness and Decision Making process of the crew in these circumstances.

But we need more facts, before we can draw any such conclusions. Let's not kid ourselves, Lukashenko is well and truly an evil person, fully supported by Putin and Russia.

So I personally would like to know that at least the Ryanair crew diverted to Minsk because it was their last option and they had MIG's missiles pointed at them when they made the turn away from Lithuania and safe airspace.

The precedence of this going unpunished, will be enormous. Any country can then based on any aircrafts manifest, be able to intercept any aircraft over their airspace to get any passenger they might feel is threatening towards them or who simply disagree with them.
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Old 24th May 2021, 10:38
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You can't bring the situational awareness of the crew into question, they have to follow ATC instructions.
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Old 24th May 2021, 10:47
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it depends. Heading, altitude, etc. while conducting normal ATC - definitely. But decision where to proceed in case of a bomb threat - it’s purely on the crew with some recommendations from ATC.
They had to comply with interceptor’s instructions, not ATC.
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Old 24th May 2021, 10:50
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Just adding my tenpenneth and I'll ry not to repeat others...
  • Belarus is a client state of Putin's Russia. That fact will moderate any state-level reaction.
  • In a better world, many commercial airlines could take state-level reaction out the game by joining together and refusing to operate in/out of Belarus. Regrettably (imo) we don't live in that world. Money will rule all, as it always eventually does.
  • Based on the info available thus far, pilots and crew did exactly what they are paid to do. Put the safety and interests of the crew and passengers first. What happens to the poor souls who were abducted is not their responsibility. Losing the lives of all onboard by ignoring a possible bomb threat, or getting shot down for failing to follow the directions of an armed military fighter would be their responsiblity.
  • States like Russia, Belarus (and plenty more) don't give a fig about western democratic opinion...the more outrage they get the better. Their audience is internal...ie their own people. Their message to their people is simple and timeless: "you threaten us we will come and get you and take you down. The West, (laughter) what do you think they can do? All they care about is money!"
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Old 24th May 2021, 10:52
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In view of the 15 hours it would seem likely that there are crews involved rather than just crew. In that case where are the original crew. Are they safe?
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Old 24th May 2021, 11:15
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The today’s Ryanair flight, Cyprus to Tallin was flying true belarusian airspace like nothing had happened yesterday

Last edited by inbalance; 24th May 2021 at 11:31.
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