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Ethiopian Airlines Jet Intercepted Over Indonesia Due to Airspace Violation

An Ethiopian Airlines 777F was intercepted over Indonesian airspace on January 14th, 2019 due to lack of overflight clearance in Indonesia.

The plane, registered as ET-AVN was flying a cargo route from Addis Ababa to Singapore. ET3728 was operating a non-scheduled flight to deliver an urgent aircraft engine required in Singapore for maintenance.

The aircraft, ET-AVN was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in August of 2018.

Indonesian fighter jets intercepted the aircraft and it was forced to land in Batam. The Ethiopian Airlines crew were placed in a hotel.

The flight was diverted to Batam

Ethiopian Airlines released this statement:

“The subject freighter aircraft was flying to drop an urgent aircraft engine in Singapore for maintenance and was crossing the Indonesian airspace in accordance with the ICAO Chicago Convention Article 5, by which non-scheduled flight can overfly the air space of a friendly country without prior permission”

Ethiopian Airlines Statement on the Situation

Here is the flight path from Batam to Singapore:

Batam is only 19 miles from Singapore!

This is perhaps just a display of power for Indonesia. The flight didn’t have any malicious intent and Ethiopian Airlines has, in the past, run cargo flights to Singapore. As the flight was diverted to only 19 miles away from Singapore, it really seems like an overreaction.

Ethiopian Airlines also reelased this statement:

“Authorities may require the aircraft to make a landing. Ethiopian Airlines has explained to the Indonesian authorities on the details of the flight, and the flying crew are resting in a hotel before they continue their flight.”

Ethiopian Airlines Statement on the Situation

After 46 hours on the ground, the aircraft still hadn’t been flown to Singapore

As the largest airline in Africa, Ethiopian flies to many points across the globe. Ethiopia is also not engaged in any active conflict with Indonesia. Since the airline is known and recognized and Ethiopia is a friendly nation, there is little justification to warrant this kind of diversion.

The concern of this happening to a passenger flight is quite minimal. Passenger flights are scheduled months in advance and there are very strict requirements for flight paths and filings. If you’re worried about your flight being impacted by such a diversion, don’t be. Airlines pay heavily for diversions and their operations can be significantly impacted by a diversion. As such, airlines will do as much as in their power to avoid a diversion of any kind.

While it is questionable as to why Ethiopian Airlines didn’t have overflight clearance, the situation was perhaps exacerbated beyond reason. With the plane still in Indonesia, Ethiopian will probably face some cancellations or delays to cargo flights (and the maintenance in Singapore). Unless you have an urgent shipment being flown by Ethiopian Airlines cargo, this diversion will not affect you very much.

It remains to be seen how this situation will be resolved and if any measures to prevent such situations from happening again will be implemented.

Who do you think was at fault? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

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