A US aerial refueling aircraft came very close to an EVA Airways jet in the airspace over southern Taiwan, a military aviation news Web site said.
A report published by Alert 5 on Tuesday said that automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast (ADS-B) data captured by planfinder.net on Wednesday last week showed a US Air Force KC-135 tanker “coming less than 1,000 feet [305m] vertically with EVA Air flight BR225 as both aircraft crossed path south of Taiwan” that morning.
The report included an audio recording of a female controller from the Taipei air traffic control center telling the unidentified aircraft that it was interfering with flights in the Taipei flight information region.
She also told the crew of the unidentified aircraft to contact the control center, the recording showed.
The incident was also reported on Wednesday by the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative at Peking University’s Institute of Ocean Research, which tracks the US’ aerial reconnaissance activities in the region.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) confirmed that the control center had detected both the US tanker and the EVA plane that day, adding that it had relayed the information to the EVA airplane and asked it to stay alert.
Because the unidentified aircraft did not respond to the control center’s request for identification, it was unable to ascertain its ownership, the CAA said.
EVA said that crew members on the BR225 flight from Taipei to Singapore were notified by a controller at the Taipei air traffic control center that there was an unidentified aircraft near its flight path.
The airplane continued on its designated route, and was not told to adjust its altitude or direction, EVA said.
It is fortunate that there were no casualties, but the increased activity by US military aircraft in the area, including refueling, poses more risk to aviation safety, strategy expert Chang Ching (張競) wrote on Facebook.
If the foreign news Web site did not disclose the incident, the public would not have known about it, Chang wrote, asking if the government tried to conceal it due to political considerations.
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