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El Al Boeing 787 Escorted Over Europe By Fighter Jets

Yesterday, an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv flew under a fighter jet escort for the final stages of its journey to Israel’s second largest city. The reason why the Israeli flag carrier’s Boeing 787 was accompanied by military aircraft is said to have been an alleged bomb on board. Let’s take a look at how the incident played out.

The flight arrived on time despite the safety concerns. Photo: Getty Images

The flight in question

El Al Israel Airlines flight LY2 is a weekly scheduled flight from New York JFK to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV). According to RadarBox.com, the Israeli airline operates this service every Thursday on aircraft belonging to the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ family.

The scheduled departure time of FLight LY2 from New York JFK has been set at 4:00 p.m. for the last four iterations of the service. In retrospect, it left the Big Apple at a variety of times, from 1:40 a.m. to 8:50 p.m. local time.

With regard to the current 4:00 p.m. departures, the flight is scheduled to arrive in Tel Aviv the next morning at 9:30 a.m. local time. This results in a planned total flight time of 10 hours and 30 minutes. In addition to El Al (both the passenger and cargo departments), the US airlines American Airlines and Delta are also represented on this corridor.

El Al operates flight LY2 once a week. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying

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What happened?

The final rotation of El Al flight LY2 took off on Thursday, April 29th from New York JFK. It was a little behind schedule at 4:18 p.m. local time. Nevertheless, it made good progress and arrived in Tel Aviv the next morning, almost 10 hours later, 19 minutes earlier at 9:11 a.m. The final stages, however, were the subject of a military escort.

According to The Aviation Herald, the flight was over northern Spain when the crew notified air traffic controllers that the aircraft had a suspected bomb on board. Given these grave security concerns, NATO dispatched fighter jets to escort the flight, which flew over various Mediterranean countries for the remainder of the voyage.

LY2 flight pathThe flight path of LY2 from April 29th to 30th. Image: RadarBox.com

The first jets accompanied flight LY2 from Spanish to Italian airspace, after which Italian fighters took over the escort role. These military aircraft stayed with the Israeli 787 until they reached Greece. According to the Greek Reporter, the next leg of the escort included two pairs of Greek General Dynamics F-16 ‘Fighting Falcon’ jets based in Araxos and Kasteli.

The Greek F-16s accompanied the flight to Cypriot airspace, where it was hit by Israeli military planes. These fighter planes stayed with the Dreamliner for the remainder of their trip to Tel Aviv. It landed safely there after it was determined that it was not threatened, approximately four hours after its crew first alerted ATC to the possible bomb on board.

The affected aircraft

The El Al aircraft that received the fighter jet escort yesterday morning was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with the registration 4X-EDH. According to Planespotters.net, this is one of 12 787-9 in the Israeli airline’s fleet. 10 of them are currently active. The airline also flies three examples of the smaller 787-8 variant, all of which are currently active.

80% of El Al’s Dreamliners are medium-sized 787-9 variants. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying

4X-EDH is around two and a half years old and first arrived in El Al in October 2018. It bears the name Beer Sheva and has a three-class seating configuration for 282 passengers. SeatGuru shows that this consists of 32 Business First beds, 28 Premium Economy seats and an Economy Class area with 222 seats. According to RadarBox.com, the plane has not yet flown with the escort of fighter jets since yesterday’s incident.

Simple Flying reached out to El Al for comment on the incident but received no response at the time of publication. We will add El Al’s statement upon receipt.

What do you think of this incident? Have you ever been on a flight that was escorted for part of the trip? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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