Capt: I saw fighter jets retreating

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 09th January 2012

THE captain of the Air Niugini Falcon jet has revealed being intercepted by two Indonesian fighter planes despite numerous radio prior clearance and radio contacts with Indonesian air traffic.
An operations occurrence report submitted by Capt Christopher Smith said on Nov 29, he was in command of the flight P2ANW operating from Subong (Kuala-Lumpur) to Port Moresby with a crew of three and eight passengers.
“Between the hours of 0312z and 0320z we were intercepted by military jet aircraft in the vicinity of Makassar Vor on A215 Airway over Indonesian airspace at Fl390,” he reported.
Smith said that two days earlier, an Indonesian overflight permit was obtained via Universal Weather to operate a flight from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the permit was valid for a period of seven days which would cover subsequent flights.
“On the morning of Nov 29, P2ANW departed Kuala Lumpur (Subong) without incident transitioning through Singapore’s airspace, navigating on our assigned route of flight. At 70 distance measuring equipment (DME) while communicating with Jakarta control, we received a traffic alert (TA) on our traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) device.
“The approaching aircraft then descended further which required no maneuvering on our part. As the pilot monitoring (and sitting in the right seat) of his particular leg, I notified Jakarta that we just received a TA and gave them DME reading from Makassar,” he said.
“The air control responded by giving us a frequency change to contact Ujung
(Makassar) control on 127.5.”
Smith said they responded by giving them a frequency change to contact Ujung resolution advisory giving them climbing instruction and to monitor vertical speed.
Capt Vincent Kipma (flying the sector from left seat) disengaged the auto pilot and complied with TCSA system commands to avoid a collision.
Smith said the TCSA showed the position of the aircraft to be off their left which Capt Kipma acknowledged visually as a military jet fighter.
He said he radioed Ujung control explaining what was happening and queried several times the reason for the engagement as they had not prior warning.
The response, he said, was to report to the next reporting point which was Makassar.
“An unidentified voice (presumably the military jet pilot) said to contact Ujung
without other instructions.”
Smith said he looked out his window and saw two fighter jets to their right and 500ft below retreating.
“As a crew, we began to analyse the event, trying to determine the reason for such a bizarre confrontation.
“We were on course and on altitude.
Both Jakarta and Ujung’s radio transmissions were poor but readable.
“In an effort to cover all options, I asked Ujung control if they had overflight permit on file and they responded with an affirmative.
“A phone call was made to Universal Weather from the flight phone explaining the engagement and to check the validity of the overflight permit and they acknowledged that it was also valid.”
The Indonesians had also admitted to scrambling two fighter jets to escort the Falcon over their airspace on its way to Port Moresby.