Two Israel Air Force F-16s fighter jets reportedly came ‘dangerously close’ to Ryanair passenger aircraft, with 162 on board, above Eilat’s Ovda Airport during training exercises in the Negev desert.
The close-shave occurred at 27,000 feet. The Ryanair flight took off at 2:09 p.m. from Krakow, Poland.
In a statement, Ryanair dispelled earlier reports that the aircraft had come close to colliding, saying crew noticed the fighter jets early enough to alert ground control. "This flight from Krakow to Eilat Ovda (1 Mar) was cruising at 27,000 ft in Israeli airspace when two military aircraft (over 3 miles away) were noticed by the crew ascending towards the Ryanair aircraft flight path," the statement read. "The crew notified local ATC and the military aircraft descended away from the Ryanair jet, which continued on to Eilat Ovda and landed without incident."
Israel's Transportation Ministry and the IAF have opened an emergency investigation into the incident. In response, the IDF Spokespersons Division issued a short statement saying only that "a civilian passenger jet approached an Air Force jet over central Israel. The incident is under investigation."