Israeli fighter narrowly missed passenger jet

By Jessica Elgot, October 21, 2010

A British flight from Egypt which veered off course into Israeli airspace came close to crashing into an Israeli fighter jet.

The flight from Sharm-el-Sheikh was not supposed to enter Israeli airspace but flew too far north from Egypt's Taba area, over the Sinai Peninsula towards Eilat, flying 13 miles into Israeli airspace.

The plane came close to hitting Israeli Air Force F-16 jets, but an IAF supervising officer noticed the plane in time. The IAF is investigating the incident as a serious security breach.

An Israel Defence Forces spokesman told Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "On September 25, 2010, a British passenger plane approached dangerously close to an Air Force fighter jet while it was conducting an operation in the south of the country.

"The British passenger plane veered north into Israeli airspace, out of its approved flight path, without co-ordination or approval." The IAF has filed a complaint with the Egyptian aviation authority who are investigating.

The IAF could not reveal which airline ws involved or which airport it was heading towards.

The resort is popular with British holidaymakers, and it is estimated that around 9,000 British tourists are in Sharm-el-Sheikh at any given time. It is served by seven British airlines.

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority said the investigation would be carried out by the Egyptians and Israelis, and the UK airline would only participate when asked.

In September, a report criticised the safety standards of Israel's airspace, claiming the air control system was understaffed.

The report laid some of the blame with the IAF, which has
a monopoly over much of the country's airspace, limiting air lanes and causing congestion. Last year the number of serious safety incidents was over 40.

Last updated: 3:12pm, October 21 2010