The Aviation Eye

Swiss Air Force to introduce its Air Police longer in 2019

© TLspotting / Thibault Lapers

Swiss Air Force (SAF) will as from 1st January 2019 react in case of an alert everyday from 06:00 to 22:00, to protect Swiss Airspace.

Swiss Air Force had a failure in 2014 (17 February) when a Boeing 767-3BGER from Ethiopian Airlines, ET-AMF, flying as ET702 from Addis Ababa Bole, Ethiopia (ADD/HAAB) to Milan Malpensa (MXP/LIMC) via Rome Fiumicino (FCO/LIRF) was hijacked above Sudan, with only the co-pilot in the cockpit, while the captain went outside of the cockpit. When a radio contact was established, the copilot requested asylum in Switzerland, then Italian Eurofighter and French Mirage were called to assist the aircraft. The French fighters were authorised to reach the Swiss Airspace without shoot down, and let the plane land at Geneva Cointrin, Switzerland (GVA/LSGG) after more than 30 minutes of holdings. Then why Swiss Air Force didn’t scramble their F/A-18s from Payerne Air Base (LSMP) ?

Swiss Air Force was only able to scramble their planes 5 days per week, during the office days and office hours (08:30L-12:00L and 13:30L-17:00L), but in 2015, almost 60% of air traffic was unprotected. But this event improved the speed to conclude to “Ilana” project, to protect the Swiss Airspace 24/7.

This project, which costs CHF 30 mlns, decided by Swiss confederation, has been decided prior to this event. In 2016 already the scramble hours were changed, to 08:00-18:00 5x per week, covering 44% of the air traffic.

Then in 2017, it was 7 days a week but with the same hours of available scrambles, covering 62% of the air traffic.

This time, as from 1st January 2019, the hours are extended from 06:00 to 22:00L, covering 92% of the air traffic of Switzerland.

The project will be completed around 2021, with a 24/7 service.

Thibault Lapers

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