Two Italian Eurofighter Typhoon in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) were scrambled to intercept and escort MEA214 flight that reported a bomb threat aboard.
Two loud sonic booms were heard at around 1.45PM LT in Central Italy as two Italian Air Force Typhoons accelerated to supersonic speed to intercept Middle East Airlines 214 flight, an Airbus 320 from Geneva to Beirut.
The two fighter planes, belonging to the 4° Stormo (Wing) from Grosseto, in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service round the clock together with those of the 36° Stormo from Gioia del Colle, were dispatched to intercept the Lebanese plane that, once flying over Bari, in southeastern Italy, radioed the Italian Air Traffic Control the request to land at Rome Fiumicino airport, because of a bomb threat.
The two armed Typhoons intercepted the Airbus 320 T7-MRC and escorted it to landing on runway 16R at Fiumicino airport, then circled at low altitude over the sea near the airport, until security forces surrounded the plane and brought it to an isolated parking slot.
The subsequent inspection did not find any bomb aboard the plane.
The MEA214 route could be tracked on Flightradar24.com as the following screenshot shows.
Image credit: screenshot by FR24.com
I don’t understand why the plane was landing to Roma instead to landing at Grottaglie or Bari or brindisi or Naples that are more closely to the point where the alarm was given
I do not understand why the plane from Taranto, where the alarm was given, was landed in Rome-Fiumicino, rather than Grottaglie or Bari or Brindisi or Naples airports that are closer to the point where it was issued the alarm? In addition, because are taken off the Typhoon belonging to the 4° Stormo and not those of the 36° Stormo closer to Taranto?
Most probably it was a request of the crew based on their familiarity with the airport. Furthermore, the airport must be equipped with isolated parking slots, security teams etc. Second, the Typhoons were scrambled from Grosseto because the mission was to escort a plane into Fiumicino, so the planes from Grosseto would reach it before it arrived near Rome and have enough fuel to wait until the A320 was parked and then RTB to Grosseto; Gioia’s F-2000 would have little fuel after a supersonic run for circling near the airport and return to their homebase.
I thought F-2000 (even those from Gioia) could use Pratica di Mare to make a stopover to refuel if required
Not as easy as one might believe.
A stopover of two armed planes implies that ground crews can handle live missiles: not easy to arrange it on a Sunday afternoon, on a base that usually doesn’t service armed planes.
Moreover, stopover so as fuel, has a cost. Last but not least, a diversion to an alternate field of the QRA aircraft means that you have no interceptors to scramble until they are back and readied again. This means that you have half of the country uncovered by air defense for 2 – 3 hours or more.
it is clear now but I have a doubt because I do not know the procedures.
And if there was really a bomb?
In this case, Taranto-Fiumicino is a path of at least one hour of flight; in this time the bomb would explode.
In these cases, is it not better to land the plane at the nearest airport?
There are cases in which it might use military airports?
It’s just funny how such situations are handled all over Europe. Air Forces with operating hours like post offices in the 1950s, threatened planes are kept in the air for absolutely no reason, etc. Aside form the fact that every commercial aerodrome should have a remote parking position for such cases (does any authority even read Annex 14?), why bring such a plane closer to a large city? This was more dangerous to the POB and to the people on the ground.