Access denied: why was Air France flight turned away from Russia?
Air France flight AF258 experienced an extremely rare incident on November 1, 2018. As the carrier’s Boeing 777 was approaching Russian airspace, it was denied access, forcing the plane to turn back and return to Paris.
The flight AF258 was en route from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), France, to Ho Chi Minh City International Airport (SGN), Vietnam. Around two hours into the flight, as it was passing over Belarus, the plane started circling above the city of Dovsk: its entrance into the Russian airspace had been denied. Once informed by Russian ATC, the flight crew decided to turn around, and after failing to land in Warsaw, the plane eventually went back to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
“It almost never happens; it's as if the plane was facing a wall. The road was closed,” commented a source close to the matter quoted by French radio Europe 1. Air France explained to Franceinfo that this extremely rare incident was due to a very simple reason: a glitch in the update of the route for IATA winter season, which occurs between October 31 and November 1. The airline said that the problem was since corrected.
However, the data collected by flightradar24 shows that the following flights (November 3 and November 6, 2018) used the same route as the one used prior to November 1, 2018, which avoids the Russian airspace.
According to the Federal Air Transport Agency, the French airline failed to notify the Russian authorities of a change in AF258 route.
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