Italian and French jets escorted hijacked plane because Swiss AF was outside working hours

Italian Eurofighter Typhoons escorted the hijacked plane and handed over to the French Air Force because the Swiss Air Force was outside working hours.

On Feb. 17, an Ethiopian Boeing 767 from Addis Abeba to Rome Fiumicino was hijacked by the copilot while the pilot was in the toilet, and eventually landed at Geneva airport.

The aircraft, flying as ET 702 was escorted on its route by two Eurofighter Typhoons of the 36° Stormo on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert).

The two F-2000s (this is the designation of the Typhoon within the Italian Air Force) were scrambled  from Gioia del Colle, in Southeastern Italy, where 36° Stormo’s 12° and 10° Gruppo (Squadron) are based. Once in the air within the standard 15-minute timeframe, the two armed fighter jets headed westbound, vectored by the Air Defense Radar to intercept the hijacked plane.

The two Typhoons reached the Boeing 767 off Sicily, identified and shadowed it along its way across the Italian airspace.

When the Ethiopian flight reached the boundaries of the French airspace it was handed over to the French Air Force. whose Mirage fighter jets escorted it until landing in Geneva: noteworthy, the hijacked liner was accompanied until landing by the French jets because instead of Swiss interceptors because the entire interception took place early in the morning, outside the working hours (08.00 – 12 and 13.30 – 17.00) of the Swiss F-18 Hornets!

If you plan to attack Switzerland, opt for non-working hours.

Image credit: Eurofighter

 

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About David Cenciotti 4453 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

2 Comments

  1. There are of course an official agreements with the neighbouring countries to take care of such incidents outside Swiss office hours… As others have pointed out even in day time it would be impossible to escort an airplane to Geneva airport without using French airspace. So there are mutual agreements on such procedures anyway.

  2. Switzerland is a sensible country. Before we criticize them too harshly, let’s ask ourselves how much of THEIR citizens’ hard-earned money they spend on defense, and how many of THEIR young people have died in wars that changed virtually nothing. Maybe other nations should learn from them, rather than the other way around. BTW, I’m a former U. S. Air Force pilot.

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