Two Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets of the Portuguese Air Force were scrambled to meet a Ryanair Boeing 737-800 that had lost contact with air traffic control while flying over Portuguese airspace.
Although it has transpired now, the incident took place on Saturday, 8 January. The aircraft with registration EI-HAW was flying FR8132 from London-Stansted Airport (United Kingdom) to Gran Canaria Airport (Spain). When it was flying over Portuguese airspace, it was not possible for the Air Traffic Control Centre personnel to contact the aircraft.
Therefore, two fighters from the Monte Real Air Base were scrambled to meet the plane. The base hosts the 51st Operational Group (GO51) composed of two F-16 squadrons. Once there, they reestablished contact and verified that no incident was taking place in the cabin by flying next to the Ryanair aeroplane. A new frequency was given to the Ryanair pilots.
As highlighted by EnElAire, this is the first intervention of NATO aircraft in 2022. Last year, the intervention of combat aircraft in Europe was required 370 times.