Silent Cockpit Prompted International Scramble
A lack of communication between an airline crew and air traffic control that resulted in an airborne intercept has sparked an inquiry in Europe ... that and the scrambling of six military aircraft from three different countries, two each from the Netherlands, Germany and France ... plus a sonic boom from the Dutch F-16s, heard across much of the Netherlands. Authorities last week acknowledged reports that on May 1, a Spanish Air Europa 737 failed to respond to ATC inquiries for 20 minutes, prompting an international response in fear that a hijacking was in progress. The airline said last week that the crew was unaware they were being hailed (other reports said they heard the calls, but were unaware their flight was the intended recipient of them). Once the crew spotted the French fighter jets, communications were re-established and the 737 continued on to its destination. The airliner, carrying 186 passengers and seven crew members, was en route from Norway to Spain. The Dutch have opened an inquiry into the incident to determine if the pilots broke any aviation regulations (or helped break any windows).