The transcript of the conversation between the Belavia aircraft crew and Zhulyany Airport air traffic control confirms that the latter ordered the Belavia aircraft to come back to the airport of departure and threatened to scramble fighter jets if the crew failed to comply.
BelTA reported earlier that on 21 October 2016, Belavia Boeing 737-800, carrying out flight V2-840 from Zhulyany (Kiev) to Minsk, was forced to return to the departure airport. There were 136 passengers and six crew members on board. The plane took off from Zhulyany Airport at 15.25. At 15.36, when the plane was a mere 50 kilometers from the Belarusian border, the aircraft’s pilot received an order from a traffic controller from the Kiev District division of the Ukrainian state air traffic control enterprise UkSATSE, to immediately head back, with no further explanation.
It was also stated that if the order was not fulfilled, fighter jets would be sent into the air. The commander of the aircraft fulfilled the order and started to descend at 15.37. At 15.55 the Belarusian plane landed at Zhulyany International Airport. Upon landing, one of the passengers, an Armenian citizen, was taken off the flight by Ukrainian law enforcement. After the refueling the plane took off and landed at Minsk National Airport at 17.33. The passenger who was taken off the flight was later released and left Kiev for Minsk at 19.00. Transcript of the communication given by the aviation authorities upon BelTA’s request:
Air traffic controller: Belavia eight four zero, this is Kiev-Radar.
Air traffic controller: Belavia eight four zero, we’ve received an instruction: you need, you must return to the departure airport Zhulyany. IF YOU FAIL TO COMPLY, AIR FORCE UNITS WILL BE SCRAMBLED TO INTERCEPT.
Pilot: What happened?
Air traffic controller: I cannot talk about this on air. Belavia eight four zero, you will be informed upon arrival.
Pilot: I do not understand. Whose instruction is that?
Having received no response, the pilot asks again: Belavia eight four zero. Who gave this instruction?
Air traffic controller: Belavia eight four zero, Ukraerotsentr.
Pilot: What’s the reason?
Air traffic controller: Belavia eight four zero, I’ve received the instruction to return you to the airport of departure.
Pilot: Zhulyany, right?
Air traffic controller: Affirmative. Zhulyany.
Pilot: Copy that. We are turning back.
The transcript further provides the conversation of the crew in the cockpit. Some time later the pilot makes another attempt to find out the reason from the air traffic controller.
Pilot: Belavia eight four zero. What’s the reason again? We do not understand anything.
Air traffic controller: Belavia eight four zero, we are clarifying… [unintelligible].
Pilot: There is some mistake, we are already at two-Z, we are actually over Belarus.
The pilots discuss the situation among themselves.
The air traffic controller again contacts the aircraft: Belavia eight four zero, this is Kiev-Radar.
Air traffic controller: Belavia eight four zero, this is the flight control officer speaking. The instructions on your return to Zhulyany CAME FROM MILITARY AUTHORITIES. You will get a more detailed report after landing.
Pilot: Got it. We are returning.