Russian military plane nearly hit passenger jet, Sweden says


sas planeA Russian military intelligence plane nearly collided with a commercial passenger jet south of Sweden on Friday, the Swedish air force chief said Sunday.

The incident in international airspace forced the passenger flight en route from Denmark to Sweden to change course, Maj. Gen. Micael Byden said.

But the Russian Defense Ministry refuted the notion that one of its warplanes nearly collided with a passenger jet.

And a spokesman for Scandinavian Airlines said reports of danger to the plane or passengers were “blown out of proportion.”

Knut Morten Johansen said the flight wasn’t forced to change course, but that the pilot took normal advice from air traffic control.

“No security borders were breached,” he said, adding that it was a “totally safe flight.”

Byden said Swedish fighter jets were immediately deployed to identify the aircraft and later determined it was a Russian intelligence plane. He said the Russian military aircraft’s transponders were turned off to avoid commercial radar.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman maintained the flight was a safe distance from civilian aircraft.

“No prerequisites existed for an air accident related with a flight of a Russian warplane in the international air space over the Baltic Sea on Friday,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Sunday, according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency.

“The flight was being made strictly in compliance with international air space rules, not violating borders of other countries and at a safe distance from traffic routes of civilian aircraft,” he said. Konashenkov said the Russian plane was more than 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the flight route of a passenger jet.