Ethiopian Airlines flight ET-3717 intercepted after hour-long radio silence

Shutterstock/Bjoern Wylezich

UPDATE 20-10-2022, 15:30 (UTC +3): This article was updated with a statement from the Hellenic Air Force.

Ethiopian Airlines (EA) flight ET-3717 was intercepted by fighter aircraft flying over Greece after reportedly losing radio contact with multiple Air Traffic Control (ATC) centers for more than an hour.   

On October 15, 2022, flight ET-3717, operated by an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300 freighter registered ET-ALO, began its journey from Liege, Belgium and was en route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. However, following its crossover from Croatia’s airspace, where it was in contact with Zagreb Center, radio contact with the aircraft was lost.  

Radio silence 

While the aircraft remained on its planned flight path (via Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and into Greece), multiple calls were made by the various ATC centers as well as other aircraft to raise the crew on all available frequencies, including the International Guard Frequency. However, there was no answer at which point the Athens Center alerted that fighter aircraft would be scrambled to intercept the aircraft.  

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET3717 playback, Flightradar24

More than an hour after communication was lost, a scramble order from the CAOC Torrejon – the responsible Combined Air Operations Centre in south Europe – was given to intercept flight ET-3717, according to statement provided to AeroTime by the Hellenic Air Force.

“Two GRC F-16 jets were scrambled at 18:45”, the statement continued.

A spokesperson from the Hellenic Air Force told AeroTime that flight ET-3717 was intercepted 10NM south of Kithira Island, upon which radio communication between the aircraft and the ATC was re-established.

Upon radio response from the crew, the GRC F-16 jets returned to base, while flight ET-3717 continued along its flight path and landed at its destination in Addis Ababa with no further incidents recorded.  

No official cause has been reported concerning the extended period of radio silence and Ethiopian Airlines is yet to issue an official statement.   

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