A mid-air collision between Israeli Air Force fighter jets and a commercial passenger plane was narrowly avoided over central Israel on Tuesday, according to media reports.
The captain of the Ryanair plane spotted several IAF jets coming at him at 27,000 feet at 2:09 p.m., shortly after taking off from Ovda Airport north of Eilat. The fighter jets were engaged in a training exercise.
Initial reports credited the captain of the Cracow-bound flight with quick reactions in averting a collision.
The IDF spokesperson confirmed the incident and said that it was being investigated, but offered no other details. The Ministry of Transportation was reportedly taking part in a joint investigation with the air force.
However, in a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Ryanair disputed the reports of a near-crash. The airline said that the flight “was cruising at 27,000 ft in Israeli airspace when two military aircraft (over 3 miles away) were noticed by the crew ascending towards the Ryanair aircraft flight path. The crew notified local ATC and the military aircraft descended away from the Ryanair jet, which continued on to Eilat Ovda and landed without incident.” The airline said that the “military aircraft were at all times over 3 miles away from the Ryanair aircraft, so the reports of a ‘nearly crash’ or ‘evasive manoeuvres’ are all false and invented. All passengers on board the Ryanair aircraft noticed nothing, since our aircraft never diverted from its cleared flight path to Ovda.”