In a statement on Saturday, Russia’s federal air transport regulator, Rosaviatsia, shed more light on an incident that unfolded above the international waters of the Black Sea the day before.
The regulator claimed that a NATO reconnaissance plane was flying dangerously close to a Moscow-bound civil aircraft with over 140 passengers on board and repeatedly ignored attempts by traffic control to reach out. With the NATO jet crew not responding, the passenger plane was forced to lose altitude instead.
Rosaviatsia said that traffic controls observed a NATO Bombardier CL-600 Artemis reconnaissance aircraft rapidly descending from 11,000 meters (36,000 feet) to 9,200 meters (30,200 feet) while “crossing the civil flight path” in the immediate proximity of Aeroflot SU501 flight.
The ground controls had to intervene, advising the Moscow-bound aircraft and another plane, a Maltese CL-650, flying from the Russian resort city of Sochi to Skopje in North Macedonia, to change course.
“The course and the altitude of civil aircraft were promptly changed. The measures taken by Russian air traffic controllers ensured the safety of flights in the area above the international waters of the Black Sea,” Rosaviatsia stated.
The incident was acknowledged by Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot. The airline revealed that the crew of Moscow-bound А330 plane was able to physically see the NATO jet when they were told to change course by ground control.
Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry revealed it had to scramble Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets to escort two spy planes, the CL-600 and a Boeing RC-135V Rivet Joint, away from the country’s borders.
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