Royal Air Force jets intercepted an inbound Ryanair flight from Lithuania and escorted it to Stansted Airport following a hoax security alert, resulting in a sonic boom heard over East Anglia.
A spokesman for Stansted Airport confirmed a Luton Airport-bound Ryanair flight FR2145 from Lithuania landed safely at Stansted, Essex, at 8:55 am after being escorted by two RAF Typhoon jets.
The two RAF Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Conningsby in Lincolnshire, travelling faster than the speed of sound causing a sonic boom over East Anglia. RAF aircraft are only ever authorised to travel at supersonic speed over land in emergency situations.
After escorting the passenger jet to the airport, the RAF then handed over the situation to the police who were in attendance on the ground.
— Andy Longhurst (@AndyLonghurstUK) October 4, 2017
Ryanair said that the jets were scrambled in response to a hoax suspected security alert: “The flight from Lithuania to London Luton was diverted to London Stansted in line with procedures after Lithuanian authorities received a suspected hoax security alert.
“The aircraft landed normally at Stansted and passengers will be transported to Luton by coach when cleared to do so.”
— JZ (@zulu_wooloo) October 4, 2017
However, two passengers have told press that airport authorities in Lithuania were allegedly aware there was a hoax security alert before the flight took off from Kaunas.
One passenger said: “Before we boarded in Kaunas we were delayed by 20mins. We saw fire engines and police but were not told why.”
Another, Jonathan Zulberg, told Mirror Online: “I was the first seat on the plane. We were told we were being diverted then I heard the air stewardess speaking.
“I asked what happened and was informed that a bomb threat was made on the plane. We were delayed getting on the plane in Kaunas by about 30 to 40 mins.
“I saw fire engines and police on tarmac but wasn’t told anything till we were coming into land in Stansted.
“Apparently threat was made while we were still in Kaunas.”
— Gary Devlin (@garydevlin) October 4, 2017
An RAF spokesman said: “Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon aircraft were launched this morning from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft.
“The aircraft was safely escorted to Stansted airport. The Typhoon aircraft were authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons.”