Airliner and Russian spyplane nearly collide off Sweden

A SAS Boeing 737 had to change its course at the last moment not to collide with a Russian Il-20 off Malmö, Sweden.

Even if the news was only recently made public, a SAS flight SK 681, a Boeing 737 with 132 people on board from Kastrup – Copenhagen to Rome had to change course in order to avoid colliding into an unidentified plane, about 50 miles to the southwest of Malmö.

The two planes passed 90 meters apart.

The incident occurred on Mar. 3 in international waters. Even if neither the Boeing 737’s TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) nor the civilian Air Traffic Control saw the aircraft “painted gray with four turboprop engines and a long antenna on the roof,” the Il-20 Coot intelligence gathering aircraft was detected by a Swedish Air Defense radar station while it was heading straight towards the SAS plane.

Fortunately, visibility was good and the SAS pilot reacted in time to prevent coming dangerously closer to the Russian SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) plane.

Russian Air Force Il-20s regularly fly in the Scandinavian region causing alert scrambles by NATO planes providing QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) for the Baltic Air Policing mission.

H/T to Lars Westholm and Kristian Jönsson for providing details about the incident.

Image credit: FAF

 

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About David Cenciotti 3632 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.