Two Typhoon strike fighters from RAF Coningsby smashed the sound barrier this afternoon as they chased towards the Bristol Channel to reach a twin engined executive jet which was not responding to radio calls.
The aircraft, a German-registered Bombardier Challenger 300, which has transatlantic range and can fly as fast as most airliners, apparently suffered a technical failure which prevented it responding properly to radio messages.
Local people in Oxfordshire – along the flightpath of the Typhoons – heard two sonic booms as the RAF aircraft – both part of the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) group – powered their way through the sound barrier in hot pursuit .
They caught up with the German jet – registration letters D-BTLT – over the Bristol Channel and flew alongside the aircraft – checking visually for any sign of life in the cockpit.
Visual communication was established and the RAF pilots then gave the pilot of the German aircraft the internationally recognised “follow-me” signal instructing him to land at Cardiff Airport.
The Challenger’s communications were eventually restored and it landed safety – although airport fire crew were in attendance as the aircraft touched down. It was escorted to a safe area away from the terminal building.
Cardiff Airport was closed for a time and an incoming KLM flight had to maintain a holding pattern over the West Country until the runways re-opened . South Wales Police also closed some local roads around the airport.