A Code Renegade command has put Greek authorities on high alert after a corresponding signal was received from the NATO Air Traffic Control Center in Spain (CAOC Torrejón) about a civilian aircraft that did not respond to air traffic control.
The Renegade code is usually a distress signal indicating that the aircraft has been hijacked.
There were reportedly several attempts to contact the aircraft, but no response was received by radio, which was of particular concern.
The unresponsive plane was an Airbus A321 with 145 passengers on board, which had taken off from Madrid and was heading for Beirut.
Greece has been ordered to send the fighters immediately and begin the process of intercepting a civilian aircraft – which includes visual identification, restoration of contact and communication, guidance and escort either along the originally planned path, either outside the restricted area – airspace, or at the landing airport.
Two F-16 fighters, which were on standby, took off from the 115th Fighter Wing in Souda and approached the civilian aircraft approximately over Argolis in the northeast Peloponnese.
The two Greek fighter jets had a mid-air encounter with the unresponsive aircraft around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday August 10. They reestablished contact with the pilot and determined that there was no problem.
It is believed that the pilot forgot to set the instruments to the correct frequency, explaining why he was unable to respond to any of the calls.
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