El Al B787 Diverted By Fake Somali Air Traffic Controllers

El Al SOmalia
Avatar of Juergen T Steinmetz

Even flying the safest airline in the world when this airline is also the national carrier of a country at war can be a challenge. El Al had lived up to its safety ratings since it started flying.

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An EL AL Dreamliner en route from Phuket International Airport (HKT) in Thailand to Tel Aviv, Israel on Sunday could have been another victim of a kidnapping scheme when in a cyber terror attack attempt.

Cyber terrorists claiming to be air traffic controllers were able to bring the aircraft off course and dangerously close to an area over Somalia where the Iran-backed Houthis are active. Some reports say that Somaliland and not Somalia were responsible for the thwarted attack.

Good training and quick thinking by El Al pilots foiled this cyberattack. The crew was able to bring the aircraft back on course to Tel Aviv.

This was the second time an incident had occurred in the past week.

While under attack, the flight crew received instructions deviating from their planned route. Thankfully, the astute pilots sensed something was amiss and chose to disregard the given instructions. They promptly adopted an alternative communication method, cross-referencing the data with other air traffic controllers to confirm their suspicions of being misled.

The incident was regarded as highly grave, carrying the potential for sabotage, diversion into perilous zones, and even the emergence of a kidnapping scenario.

Throughout the entire week in Somalia, there have been disruptions in communication. This is not limited to just El Al planes. The authorities have given instructions to all pilots that if these interruptions occur frequently, they should disregard the instructions given and switch to an alternative method of communication.

El Al flight LY88, operated by a 2019 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with registration 4X-EDJ and MSN 65086, departed Phuket at 23:36 on Saturday, February 17, 2024, according to flight tracking data from Flightradar24.com. Despite a delay of nearly one hour, the Dreamliner arrived in Tel Aviv at 04:52 on Sunday, just 17 minutes behind schedule, completing the journey in 10 hours and 26 minutes.

According to an El Al representative, the pilots of El Al were contacted by the hostile elements on two occasions. The first instance was during the Phuket to Ben Gurion flight, while the second occurred during a flight to Bangkok. El Al emphasized this information in a statement.

El Al operates a fleet of 45 aircraft, consisting of a single Airbus A300-600R(F) freighter on a wet lease and various Boeing models. The Boeing aircraft in their fleet include 15 737-800s, eight 737-900ERs, four 777-200ERs, one 737-800(BCF) freighter, four 787-8s, and 12 787-9 Dreamliners.

WHAT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS ARTICLE:

  • An EL AL Dreamliner en route from Phuket International Airport (HKT) in Thailand to Tel Aviv, Israel on Sunday could have been another victim of a kidnapping scheme when in a cyber terror attack attempt.
  • According to an El Al representative, the pilots of El Al were contacted by the hostile elements on two occasions.
  • El Al operates a fleet of 45 aircraft, consisting of a single Airbus A300-600R(F) freighter on a wet lease and various Boeing models.

About the author

Avatar of Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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