Brussels retracts report on Baltic incidents

European news service Euractiv.com is reporting that the European Commission has retracted a press release detailing a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) study on incidents between civil and military aircraft in the Baltic region.

The very next day, Britain reportedly scrambled Typhoon fighter jets to intercept two Russian long-range bombers near UK airspace as the nation was hosting war games off the coast of Scotland involving more than 50 warships and submarines and 13,000 personnel from 14 countries.

Euractiv stated that the press release was available on the Commission website until it enquired who was to blame for the incidents. Euractiv subsequently posted a copy of it on its own website.

According to the press release, some member states have reported an increase in incidents involving civil and military aircraft, and an increase in military traffic over the high seas, tparticularly over the Baltic states.

On the basis of the EASA report, the Commission makes several recommendations to help improve civil-military co-operation and quotes European transport commissioner Violeta Bulc as thanking member states for offering information, adding that the executive will work towards preventing future incidents.

European aviation safety experts were tasked in December by Brussels to investigate a series of near misses between passenger and military aircraft whose transponders had been deactivated and to deliver its recommendations to the Commission in March.

According to a EASA statement, the incidents which had been reported by various nations had occurred over the sea at the European Union border. The transponder of the military aircraft were inactive and it was not possible to establish a radio contact with them, presenting an immediate safety hazard to civil aviation.

EASA did not identify these military aircraft at the time, but it is known that there had been increased activity involving the Russian air force.

Patrick Ky, EASA executive director said in December: “This is a very serious issue. We will consult and interview all the relevant civil and military bodies in order to gather the necessary information to complete our analysis.”

 “The Russian aircraft are being escorted by the RAF (Royal Air Force) in the UK area of interest,” said a British defence ministry official yesterday. Britain last summoned the Russian ambassador to explain a January episode, when Russian bombers flew over the English Channel, forcing civil aircraft to reroute.

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