A private Austrian plane with four people on board, which left Spain for Germany but stopped responding to air traffic controllers, crashed into the sea off Lithuania. The incident happened yesterday around 8 pm local time, reported France Presse, quoted by BTA.
French, German, Danish and Swedish fighter jets were rushed into the air to successively try to make contact with the plane’s crew as it passed through several airspaces in the direction of northern Europe. The Lithuanian Civil Aviation Agency confirmed in a statement that a small plane had crashed into the Baltic Sea, northwest of Vilnius.
The plane was known to be a Chesna 551 carrying four passengers and traveling between Spain and Cologne in Germany. However, it changed course mid-flight and air traffic controllers were unable to contact the crew, the agency said. The plane took off from Jerez airport in Spain.
“Now rescue teams with ships and helicopters from Lithuania, Latvia and Sweden are working at the scene of the accident,” the agency said in a statement.
Vetspils airport, which is closest to the area where the plane went down, had no information at all that such a machine had targeted and wanted to land there, according to an airport representative who spoke to AFP.
The first distress call for the plane was made by Spain regarding possible pressurization difficulties. The signal was sent from Spain to the French Air Force. The plane was escorted by a French fighter jet, then by a German one as it passed through the airspace of Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. Danish and Swedish fighter jets were then dispatched to try to make contact with the crew. The French, Swedish and Danish air forces all said the pilots of their fighter jets on alert did not see anyone in the Chesnata’s cockpit and attempts to make radio contact with the crew were unsuccessful.
The aircraft followed a relatively constant trajectory until approaching the Lithuanian coast. It then rapidly lost altitude when it ran out of fuel and fell into the sea at around 8pm local time, said the head of Sweden’s emergency services, Lars Antonsson.
So far, the nationalities of the four people on board the machine have not been disclosed. According to Antonshon, it was clear that the people on board the plane were unable to act, but no further explanation could be given.
The investigation is likely to be led by the Lithuanian authorities.