A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 had to be escorted by two Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons this evening (July 13) over the east coast of England.
The scheduled flight was bound for Dublin Airport from Kraków International Airport when at approximately 17:27 UTC the aircraft began squawking 7700 – the globally recognised emergency squawk code.
The flight diverted after a note was found on board saying that explosives had been placed on the aircraft. The flight-tracking website Flightradar24 confirmed that the flight (FR1902) has landed safely at London Stansted Airport.
At the time of writing, an RAF Voyager (A330 MRTT) is circling the area where the typhoons first came into contact with the passenger flight.
According to Sky News Defence & Security Correspondent Alistair Bunkall, the two RAF jets were scrambled from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, as part of a QRA (Quick reaction alert) operation and have already returned back to base.
A spokesperson for Ryanair said “A Ryanair flight from Krakow to Dublin this evening (13 JUL) discovered a note in one of the toilets claiming that there were explosives on board.
“The captain followed procedure by alerting the UK authorities and diverted to the nearest airport (Stansted) where the plane landed normally, but was taxied to a remote stand where passengers disembarked safely.
“The aircraft and passengers are being checked by the UK police who will decide when they may travel onwards to Dublin on a spare aircraft. Passengers in Dublin waiting to depart to Krakow are being transferred to a spare aircraft to minimise any delay to their flight.
“Ryanair apologises sincerely for the delay and inconvenience caused to those affected by this diversion”.
Why are fighter jets scrambled for commercial flights?
There are many reasons why fighter jets may be scrambled to intercept a passenger plane, such as a hijacking or loss of communication.
A YouTube video by Mentour Pilot below explains this brilliantly:
In the UK, the Royal Air Force have a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) station in RAF Coningsby where there are Eurofighter Typhoons on standby 24/7 to safeguard the skies of Britain and intercept any threats to our airspace.