Russia checking 'dangerous' plane incident above Kabul

Russia's air transport authorities on Thursday were looking into a reported incident of a mysterious and unresponsive plane flying dangerously close to a Russian passenger plane in Afghan airspace.

The incident was first reported in Russian media Wednesday after the Boeing 767 plane chartered by a major Russian tour operator and carrying 285 people from Bali landed at its destination in the Urals' Yekaterinburg.

Channel One television on Wednesday aired computerised footage of the plane in a near brush-off with a fighter jet, implying it could be a NATO plane as Afghanistan does not have its own fighter planes.

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According to the captain of the plane, the warning system went off when it was flying over Kabul, "indicating a dangerous approach of another plane," said a spokesman of Rosaviatsia, Russia's air transport agency.

The plane, which belongs to charter airline Nordwind Airlines, was travelling above Kabul's vicinity at an altitude of 10,800 metres (35,000 feet), the official said. The second plane was 330 metres (1,000 feet) away from the Boeing and was not responding to its calls.

Interfax on Thursday quoted a senior official as saying that the fighter jet "had military colours similar to a plane from NATO's air base" although this was not yet confirmed by Rosaviatsia.

"We don't have information about whether it was a fighter plane," Rosaviatsia's spokesman said, but the agency is required to check such reports per Russia's air transport rules.

He added that it is not in the agency's power to send requests for information to NATO or Afghanistan.

If the incident above Afghanistan is confirmed, it would be the first in "several years," he said.

by Jason Gutierrez © 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Jan 24, 2013