Uhoh! You wouldn’t want to be the pilots of that Jet Airways 777-300ER.
One of the primary responsibilities of airline pilots during cruise is to communicate with air traffic controllers. European airspace is busy and handoffs between controllers happen often. If you are a pilot flying in Western Europe, you need to bring your “A-Game” to the cockpit. Even with paying attention, mistakes happen. With interruptions, radio static, and accents, it’s easy to miss a frequency handoff. That’s why every pilot is also supposed to monitor Guard frequency on 121.5. Guard is the safety net frequency for controllers to communicate with a jet on the wrong frequency.
Unfortunately, there was some sort of breakdown with communication between the crew on Jet Airways flight 118 and Eurocontrol. The crew was non-responsive as the jet transitioned between the Netherlands and German airspace. When situations like this happen, the controllers will usually first attempt to raise the jet on guard. If that fails, the controllers will typically attempt to ask other aircraft on the frequency to raise the flight. If possible, they’ll also attempt to communicate with the jet by other means to include CPDLC (if logged on) or via the company.
While it was a bad day for the crew of Jet Airways flight 118, the video is pure avgeekery gold.
In this case, nothing worked. The German Air Force launched two Eurofighters to intercept the Boeing 777 jet. They approached on the left side in an attempt to make contact with the jet and ensure that nothing was wrong with the aircraft or the crew.
What’s even more impressive was that a British Airways jet was 1,000 feet above the jet and someone filmed it. The crew establish contact (after pulling the seat cushions out of their butt) and safely continued on to London Heathrow for landing. While it was a bad day for the crew of Jet Airways flight 118, the video is pure avgeekery gold.
The video was originally posted by Mark Stewart on YouTube but taken down. A copy of the video was posted by a number of accounts on You Tube. One of which is posted below.