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EASA investigates near mid-air collisions involving Russian military aircraft
8 December 2014
Tu-95 Bear over the North Sea, intercepted by RAF Typhoon jet (photo: MoD, Crown Copyright Unit)

Tu-95 Bear over the North Sea, intercepted by RAF Typhoon jet (photo: MoD, Crown Copyright Unit)

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) received a request from the European Commission to investigate a series of near mid-air collisions between European passenger aeroplanes and military aircraft during recent months.

According to an EASA statement, these incidents have taken place over the sea at the border of the European Union (EU). As reported by different EU member states, the transponder of the military aircraft were inactive and it was not possible to establish a radio contact with them. This may have caused an immediate safety hazard to civil aviation.

EASA did not identify these “military aircraft”, but it is known that there has been increased activity involving Russian military aircraft in the past few months. NATO reported that a formation of  four Tu-95 Bear H strategic bombers and four Il-78 tanker aircraft were intercepted over the North Sea on October 29.  According to the NATO statement the aircraft did not file flight plans or maintain radio contact with civilian air traffic control authorities and they were not using on-board transponders. “This poses a potential risk to civil aviation as civilian air traffic control cannot detect these aircraft or ensure there is no interference with civilian air traffic,”   according to NATO. On the same day other Russian aircraft were tracked over the Baltic Sea and  Black Sea. These aircraft included MiG-31 Foxhounds, Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback, Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer jets.

The EASA analysis will aim at identifying the causes of the near mid-air collisions and provide recommendations on how to minimise the potential safety impact of these events on civil aviation. EASA will deliver its recommendations to the European Commission in March 2015.