International pilots' associations condemn Belarusian Air Force intervention for forced landing of RYANAIR flight

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The International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations (IFALPA) and the European Cockpit Association (ECA) fully share the concerns expressed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regarding forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 in Minsk, Belarus, on 23 May.

The pilots are concerned that the intervention of the Belarusian Air Force was adopted for political reasons, in violation of the Chicago Convention and amounts to an act of illegal interference, which bears all the characteristics of state embezzlement.

An independent investigation into this event and an immediate and appropriate response from the safety and security authorities is required. This unprecedented act of illegal interference will potentially overturn all assumptions about the safest response to in-flight bomb threats and interceptions. Without trust and reliable information from states and air navigation service providers, managing both types of events becomes much more risky to manage.

IFALPA and ECA emphasize that the pilot-in-command always has the best overview of the actual situation on board and must be able to react according to the level of risk, regardless of external circumstances. Any action taken by states to address a specific threat should increase the crew's ability to assess the situation in detail.

Any military intervention against a civilian aircraft poses a danger to the safety of passengers and crew. IFALPA and the ECA urge States and the International Aviation Community to investigate and take swift action against similar events. The airline is also called upon to provide full support to the pilots and cabin crew on board, both during the next investigation and in terms of their physical and mental well-being after such a challenging and stressful event.

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