Transavia denies military escort for damaged airliner.

Emergency declared after pressurising issues

Transavia planeThe Diario reports on conflicting stories about the Transavia flight that damaged its tail whilst taking off from Funchal on Monday. This was after the Portuguese Air Force yesterday claimed that it sent two F-16s to escort the aircraft specifically to provide assistance, refusing to concur that the military escort was part of a military exercise as claimed by the Dutch airline. The Boeing 737 with 144 passengers on board declared an emergency after clipping its tail on the runway whilst taking off from Madeira.

“The F-16s were activated because there was a need for that to happen. (They) took off exclusively to assist the aircraft, it was not any military exercise”, Lieutenant Colonel Manuel Costa, a spokesman for the Air Force, told press agency Lusa.
The aircraft diverted to Faro airport where it landed safely, the Air Force said, saying that following the alert, it had activated “its entire primary search and rescue system in the course of the incident”.

In another statement, Transavia reported that it was a “slight touch of the tail” during takeoff in Funchal that justified the unplanned landing of the Transavia plane in Faro. In the same statement, the airline, which never mentioned an emergency situation, added that reports of being escorted by the F-16s were “not completely correct” , and that according to their information, “it was part of a training exercise” – but the spokesman for the Air Force contradicted this, pointing out that it did not use commercial aircraft in military exercises.

This was the second time in less than 24 hours that the Air Force activated the pair of F-16s permanently based at Air Force Base 5 in Monte Real to provide a military escort for a civilian aircraft in distress. As reported in a previous post, an Air Astana plane, which took off last Sunday from Alverca on the mainland. This declared an emergency after its argumentation failed and spent some time flying over the region north of Lisbon and the Alentejo, in an irregular trajectory, before landing at Beja airport at the third attempt.

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