Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Lost Communication Over Germany

Flight KQ118 is a regularly scheduled service between Nairobi (Kenya) and Amsterdam (Netherlands). Operated by a Boeing 787-8, the…

Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Lost Communication Over Germany

Flight KQ118 is a regularly scheduled service between Nairobi (Kenya) and Amsterdam (Netherlands). Operated by a Boeing 787-8, the September 20th flight of this service had lost communications with air traffic controllers over Germany, prompting two fighter jets to be dispatched.

Kenya Airways uses the Boeing 787-8 for its long-haul operations. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Near the end of an eight-hour flight

Flight KQ118 had departed Nairobi seven minutes after midnight on September 20th. The flight is technically scheduled to depart at 11:59 on September 19th but took off slightly late.

Destined for Amsterdam, this flight will pass through several countries on its way to the Netherlands. After leaving Kenyan airspace, the aircraft will overfly countries like Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, and a number of European nations. The last country to be overflown before entering Dutch airspace is Germany.

KQ118 flight
The last portion of the aircraft’s flight path. Photo:

Supersonic wake-up call

The incident occurred in Germany when the Boeing 787-8, registered as 5Y-KZE, could not be contacted. Unable to be reached, The Aviation Herald reports that German forces dispatched two Eurofighter jets to intercept the airliner.

En-route at a typical cruising altitude of FL400 (approximately 40,000 feet), communication with the aircraft was lost. WIth the two Eurofighters dispatched to intercept the aircraft, the sonic booms caused by the supersonic fighter jets also acted as unintended “wake-up” calls to many German residents. The Aviation Herald notes that disruption was reported from Landshut to Frankfurt/Main.

Since flight tracking data from has the aircraft as flying over Germany, between the two areas, from 04:06 to 04:26 UTC, we can assume that the incident took place within this window of time. With a two-hour time difference from UTC, we can see that sonic booms would have been experienced sometime between 06:00 and 06:30 local time on a Monday morning.

Given the location where communication loss was experienced, many have speculated that the crew of the aircraft failed to switch frequencies when moving from Austrian airspace to German airspace.

Two German Eurofighters were dispatched to check on the aircraft. Photo: Krasimir Grozev via Wikimedia Commons 

With the fighters able to intercept the 787 and get their attention, communication was restored. The Dreamliner then continued on to Amsterdam for a safe landing approximately 30 minutes later.

Why are fighter jets in particular dispatched?

There are multiple reasons for dispatching or ‘scrambling’ fighter jets in particular.

The first is that the jets and their pilots are most able to respond in a reasonable amount of time if there is an emergency or situation onboard the non-responsive aircraft. Indeed, many countries have quick-reaction forces on standby for situations such as these- with supersonic fighter jets best able to reach a commercial aircraft in a short amount of time.

Secondly, and more seriously, fighter jets will be able to potentially shoot down the aircraft. As the Telegraph notes, however, “such a decision would have to be taken at the highest political level.” The ability to ‘down’ a commercial aircraft full of civilians has become more of a possibility since the tragic events of 2001, over two decades ago, where hijacked commercial jets themselves were used as weapons of destruction.

Ultimately, the goal of scrambling any type of aircraft for a non-responsive flight is clear: Re-establish communications and make sure everything is operating as usual with the flight. Jets scrambled to check-in can ensure that pilots haven’t fallen asleep, the flight hasn’t been hijacked, and that radio communications are actually working (and on the correct frequency).

Let us know what your thoughts and reactions are to this incident by leaving a comment!

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What Happened To Air Slovakia?

Air Slovakia was a small scheduled and charter airline based in Bratislava, the capital city of the country…

What Happened To Air Slovakia?

Air Slovakia was a small scheduled and charter airline based in Bratislava, the capital city of the country after which the carrier was named. The carrier flew various narrowbodies to an interesting range of European and Asian destinations. With Air Slovakia now no longer being a fixture in European aviation, let’s take a look at what happened to it.

Air Slovakia’s largest Boeing narrowbody was the 757. Photo: Alan Lebeda via Wikimedia Commons

In the beginning

Air Slovakia began life under the name Air Terrex. This carrier was founded in June 1993, and it operated its first flight (Bratislava-Tel Aviv) the following January. 1995 saw it take on the name of Air Slovakia. This came about as a result of the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

Otherwise known as the ‘Velvet Divorce,’ this split saw the former Czechoslovak Federal Republic become two separate nation-states. These were, of course, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In the airline’s earlier years, Air Terrex/Air Slovakia operated Boeing 727 and Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft. Data from shows that it flew two 727s and one Tu-154.

Stay informed:  for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Air Slovakia Boeing 727
Trijets like the Boeing 727 made up Air Slovakia’s early fleet. Photo: JetPix via Wikimedia Commons

What aircraft did Air Slovakia fly?

Having spent its early years operating rear-engined trijets, Air Slovakia opted for a change of emphasis when it came to fleet strategy at the end of the 1990s. Indeed, 1999 saw the first of five Boeing 737-200 twinjets (plus one cargo example) come onboard. One of these, registered as OM-BWJ, joined Air Slovakia from Croatia Airlines.

After the turn of the century, Air Slovakia started taking on bigger aircraft. For example, notes that it briefly leased its only widebody, a Boeing 767-300ER, from Air Holland in the early 2000s. ATDB also lists six 757-200s as having flown for Air Slovakia.

These were particularly important after a change of ownership saw the airline begin to concentrate more on Indian and Bangladeshi destinations after 2006. Additionally, these larger aircraft flew charters to the likes of the Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Air Holland Boeing 767
Air Holland briefly leased a Boeing 767-300ER to Air Slovakia in the early 2000s. Photo: Paul Spijkers via Wikimedia Commons

In terms of newer narrowbodies, five Boeing 737-300s also graced the Air Slovakia fleet. The first of these came onboard in 2007. The final three were all ex-KLM aircraft, and joined in 2008. Additionally, 2007 also saw Lotus Air lease a single Airbus A320 to the carrier.

The end of the line

Despite the excitement of larger aircraft and exotic destinations in the Air Slovakia portfolio, the airline soon ran out of steam. March 2010 saw the Slovakian authorities elect to revoke the carrier’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). At this time, the airline was said to be experiencing financial difficulties, and its aircraft were 22.9 years old on average.

The revoked AOC prompted Air Slovakia to cease its operations. However, it wasn’t officially dissolved until three months later, in June 2010. Several of its aircraft were scrapped, although reports that a 757 registered as OM-ASG did join Mint Airways. Meanwhile, a 737 (OM-ASE) has been preserved as a crew trainer in Ostrava.

What are your memories of Air Slovakia? Did you ever fly with the airline? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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