Supersonic RAF jets scrambled to escort plane which lost contact, causing sonic boom heard across central England

4 March 2023, 12:55 | Updated: 4 March 2023, 16:53

'Sonic boom' heard across UK
'Sonic boom' heard across UK. Picture: Getty

By Kieran Kelly and Adam Solomons

RAF fighter jets scrambled to escort a plane which lost communications over St Albans, causing a sonic boom heard across central England.

The pair of Eurofighter Typhoons were reportedly scrambled from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire to help a Dash 8 airliner which suffered radio failure.

The small plane was flying from Iceland to Nairobi via London Southend Airport.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “Typhoon aircraft from RAF Coninsgby offered assistance to a civilian aircraft and were authorised to fly supersonic."

The RAF's fleet of Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft are able to intervene when a passenger plane loses contact with air traffic control.

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Eurofighter Typhoon jets are pictured at RAF Coningsby
Eurofighter Typhoon jets are pictured at RAF Coningsby. Picture: Alamy

Planes are able take off within ten minutes.

Flights from Gatwick were suspended for 15 minutes earlier this afternoon.

A spokesperson for Essex Police said a flight was diverted to Stansted Airport after "communications with the pilot had been lost".

The plane safely landed at around 12.50pm, the force added.

A BBC journalist at a London airport said they were told that "all airspace over London" was closed due to the incident.

It came as residents in Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire took to social media to report hearing a 'loud bang' and 'ground shakes' on Saturday afternoon.

Huw Beavan tweeted: "Sonic boom over Warwickshire, United Kingdom...Did anyone else here it?"

Another user tweeted: "Ok, who heard that massive sonic boom? I live on the border between N Oxfordshire & N Hamptonshire. My entire house shifted, no joke! My heart is still in my mouth."

A third said: "Just had what I believe a sonic boom in Leicester, the house literally shook, heard across Leicestershire."

A sonic boom is a sound which occurs when an object travels through the air faster than the speed of sound, which at ground level is 761mph.

Leicestershire Police said: "We have received numerous calls in relation to a large explosion sound heard from various parts of the city and county.

"We like to reassure you that there is no concern. However, thank you for your immediate response to us."

Northamptonshire Police said: "Police and fire services in Northamptonshire have received numerous calls in relation to a large explosion sound heard from various parts of the county.

"We would like to reassure people there is no concern, but thank you for contacting us."

The MoD has been contacted for comment.

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