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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Warship warns off civilian flight
Air traffic control tower
Air traffic controllers put the flight back on course
The commander of an American NATO warship has been reported to aviation authorities after he ordered a scheduled passenger flight off its normal route.

It has been reported that the commander told the aircraft that it was entering a military area before issuing the order.

The Jetstream aircraft was travelling from the Hebridean island of Lewis to Benbecula in the Western Isles on Tuesday when a warning came on an emergency panel.

The pilot of the Highland Airways flight turned off course before air traffic controllers intervened to bring it back onto its normal route.


The aircraft complied with the request but after further consultation with air traffic control discovered that it was not in any danger and carried on to Benbecula

Highland Airways spokesman
The airline and air traffic controllers have formally complained to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

A CAA spokesman said: "We have had a report from an airline that a flight from Stornoway to Benbecula was addressed over the radio by a ship, presumably a military ship, that it should leave the area.

"There is no indication that there was any firing under way. The aircraft did leave the area."

The CAA spokesman said the authority had no record of there being a restricted area or closed airspace in that area at the time.

He added: "The airline's view is that it was entitled to be where it was.

'Restricted zone'

"We have received the report from the airline, and we are looking at it."

A spokesman for Highland Airways said: "On Tuesday a Highland Airways flight traveling from Stornoway to Benbecula at 0905 BST received a call from a US Navy Warship.

"The aircraft was warned that that it was entering a restricted zone and should alter its course immediately.

Highland Airways logo
A Highland Airways Jetstream 31 was involved
"The aircraft complied with the request but after further consultation with air traffic control discovered that it was not in any danger and carried on to Benbecula."

The spokesman said he did not know the name of the warship, or whether the message from the ship was intended to be taken as an order.

It is thought the US warship, which was taking part in a NATO exercise, may have been firing missiles in the area.

This is the second incident in the past few days involving the same NATO operation off the west coast of Scotland.

On Tuesday a British frigate fired a shell into a loch eight miles off target and just one mile from the village of Durness.

See also:

09 Jul 02 | Scotland
03 Jul 01 | Scotland
07 Feb 01 | Scotland
11 Jan 01 | Scotland
21 May 00 | UK
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