An SAS Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) Airbus A320 was intercepted and escorted to Manchester Airport (MAN) following the loss of radio communications between the aircraft and air traffic controllers. The aircraft was en route from Oslo (OSL) to Manchester at the time of the incident.
On the morning of February 5, 2024, the Airbus A320 registered EI-SUI and operating flight SK4609 took off from Oslo Airport at 11:19 local time for the two-hour 15-minute flight to Manchester in the north of England. However, as the aircraft crossed the east coast of England and descended towards Manchester, it lost contact with air traffic controllers, and a pair of Typhoons from the RAF QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) force were scrambled to intercept the aircraft.
Once a rendezvous was made between the three aircraft, communications were re-established by flight SK4609 and the plane eventually landed at Manchester Airport at 12:40 local time, 30 minutes after its scheduled time of arrival. It is understood that the SAS aircraft did not use the 7700 distress code on its transponder at any point during the drama.
As is standard practice in such circumstances, the SAS plane was escorted by the Typhoons all the way down the approach until it was safely on the ground at Manchester Airport. An airport spokesman explained that it is common practice to escort planes that have lost communications to their final destinations.
“We understand that to have been a technical fault and comms has now been restored. The flight was destined for Manchester so passengers haven’t been displaced but we have put on extra staff to support any passengers that may need it,” said the spokesperson.
According to data from ch-aviation, EI-SUI is a 1.4-year-old A320neo. The aircraft was delivered to SAS in November 2022 and is operated on the Irish register by SAS subsidiary, SAS Connect. The SAS Connect subsidiary has 29 of this type, all of which are currently in active service and have an average age of 2.6 years.
The RAF QRA force equipped with their supersonic Typhoon crews remains on 24/7 constant standby to respond within minutes to any aircraft experiencing difficulties or to rogue aircraft in or near UK airspace. In October 2023, a Kenya Airways flight traveling from Nairobi to London-Heathrow (LHR) was diverted and escorted to London-Stansted Airport (STN) following a passenger incident onboard.