IAF fighter jets (file)
IAF fighter jets (file) IDF Spokespersons Division

Four Israel Air Force fighter jets had a close call with a Ryanair civilian airliner which was heading to Ovda Airport in southern Israel Tuesday afternoon.

The close-shave occurred at 27,000 feet, as the IAF jets were taking part in a training exercise over the skies of Israel.

The Ryanair flight took off at 2:09 p.m. from Krakow, Poland. Shortly before reaching Ovda, crew members noticed the IAF jets flying within the passenger jet's flight path.

In a statement, Ryanair dispelled earlier reports that the aircraft had come close to colliding, saying crew noticed the fighter jets early enough to alert ground control.

"This flight from Krakow to Eilat Ovda (1 Mar) was cruising at 27,000 ft in Israeli airspace when two military aircraft (over 3 miles away) were noticed by the crew ascending towards the Ryanair aircraft flight path," the statement read. "The crew notified local ATC and the military aircraft descended away from the Ryanair jet, which continued on to Eilat Ovda and landed without incident.

"These military aircraft were at all times over 3 miles away from the Ryanair aircraft, so the reports of a 'nearly crash' or 'evasive manoeuvres' are all false and invented. All passengers on board the Ryanair aircraft noticed nothing, since our aircraft never diverted from its cleared flight path to Ovda."

Israel's Transportation Ministry and the IAF have opened an emergency investigation into the incident.

In response, the IDF Spokespersons Division issued a short statement saying only that "a civilian passenger jet approached an Air Force jet over central Israel. The incident is under investigation."

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