Russian planes change course to avoid collision with NATO spy jet over Black Sea
Russia's state aviation authority says its air traffic control personnel have been forced to divert the course of two aircraft to avoid collision with a NATO spy plane in the Black Sea region.
Rosaviatsia — Russia’s federal air transport agency — said in a statement on Saturday that a Moscow-bound Russian Aeroflot airliner had a day earlier been forced to change altitude over the Black Sea because a NATO CL-600 reconnaissance plane had crossed its designated flight path.
The agency said flight SU501 carrying 142 passengers had to drop 2,000 feet after air traffic control told it that another aircraft had crossed its path in close proximity.
“The course and the altitude of the civil aircraft were promptly changed. The measures taken by Russian air traffic controllers ensured the safety of flights in the area above the international waters of the Black Sea,” Rosaviatsia said in the statement.
The incident was acknowledged by Russia’s flagship carrier, Aeroflot, with the airline stating that the crew of the Moscow-bound flight had been able to see the NATO jet before they were told to change course by ground control.
The Russian civil aviation authority also said a smaller CL-650 aircraft flying from the Black Sea resort of Sochi to Skopje in North Macedonia was obliged to change its course.
Rosaviatsia did not say which NATO member had deployed the reconnaissance aircraft.
Russia's Defense Ministry said earlier on Friday that it had scrambled fighter jets to escort two US military reconnaissance planes over the Black Sea.
Rosaviatsia said an increase in flights by aircraft belonging to the US-led military alliance in the region was creating risks for civilian planes and that Moscow planned to lodge a diplomatic complaint.
Tensions have escalated between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine and the Black Sea region.