Qatari pilots used hand signals in mid-air radio failure

Qatari pilots flying a passenger liner with apparent radio failure used hand gestures mid-air to explain the communications glitch to the puzzled pilots of two Slovak fighter jets, a Slovak official said Tuesday. Two Slovak war planes intercepted and escorted the Qatar Airways Airbus A330 out of Slovak airspace after the aircraft failed to make contact with Slovak air traffic controllers, Slovakia's Defence Minister Lubomir Galko said Tuesday, quoted by the local SITA news agency. "We're obliged to mobilise our fighters in cases where our airspace is violated or radio contact is not made," Galko said. The Qatari plane, en route from London to Doha, entered Slovak airspace Saturday morning from the neighbouring Czech Republic. Two Slovak MiG-29 fighter jets took off from the Sliac air force base at 10:54 am (0854 GMT) and made visual contact with the plane's crew at 11:08 am, Galko said. The Slovak fighters escorted the distressed plane to Hungarian airspace. Galko also denied rumours sparked by an anonymous email sent to Slovak media by a person claiming to be an air traffic controller that the two Slovak jet fighters had come close to colliding with a Boeing passenger liner. "No security regulations were breached and the flight (of the MiG-29s) was completely in line with the rules," Galko said. Slovak air traffic control has nevertheless launched an investigation into the allegations. (c) 2011 AFP
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Source: AFP
Date: Oct 25, 2011