Swiss Airbus avoids a US spy plane; Russia to US: near our borders, leave your transponder ON

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“It’s a Boeing RC-135 of the type that the pilots had to avoid over the Sea of Japan”

Le Matin, May 25, 2016

Translator note: A transponder is connected to a plane’s altimeter, and answers radar with two points of information: the registration and the altitude. Further, an airplane’s onboard equipment to spot other air traffic also depends on the transponders in the other aircraft. (I am a pilot, and there is a transponder in my Cessna 150.) — Tom Winter

A Swiss Airbus avoids a US spy plane

Big scare for the pilot of a jetliner returning from Japan who quickly changed altitude on seeing an unidentified Boeing. [Further translation: dived!]

 Seeing a big plane over the Sea of Japan which did not emit any signal, the pilots of an Airbus of the Swiss company had only seconds to decide to change altitude and prevent a possible collision, reports the news agency Interfax.

The Ministry of the Russian Defense has since announced spotting a US Air Force RC-135 flying in the region with its transponder turned off for a reconnaissance mission. The American crew had provided no information to air traffic controllers while flying at about 11,000 meters, the altitude of civilian flights. In addition to the Swiss aviation, a KLM Boeing-777 aircraft also had to change course.

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“Because of this lack of professionalism, the US plane was running the risk of a collision,” denounced the Russian Defense Ministry, adding that they have asked officials to take steps to prevent such incidents near its border.

In January, a US spy plane was intercepted over the Black Sea by a Russian jet, and in April it was over the Baltic Sea that a US aircraft had been intercepted. Following this latest episode, the Russian Defense Ministry officially asked the United States “not to approach Russian borders without turning on the transponders to be identified by our radar.”

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