Wednesday, September 30th 2020, 9:38 am - A French fighter jet whizzed by Paris Wednesday; the flight, however, was far from ordinary.
FILE PHOTO: A Rafale fighter jet, manufactured by Dassault Aviation, takes off at Saint-Dizier Air Base as the French Air Force celebrates 20,000 days of uninterrupted nuclear warning and the completion of a new round of Strategic Air Force (SAF) modernization in Saint-Dizier, France, October 4, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Filke Photo
By Geert De Clercq and Tangi Salaün
PARIS (Reuters) - A French fighter jet broke the sound barrier on Wednesday as it scrambled to join a commercial jet that had lost contact with air traffic control, causing a sonic boom that reverberated through Paris and its suburbs, the defence ministry said.
The boom rattled windows, scattered startled birds, briefly interrupted tennis at the French Open and prompted a flood of calls to emergency services.
In a city already tense after a knife attack outside the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Friday, the blast sent people on to their balconies to see what had caused it and prompted intense messaging on social media.
"A Rafale (warplane) based at Saint-Dizier, intervening to assist an airline which had lost contact, was allowed to break the sound barrier to join the airplane in trouble. It broke the sound barrier east of Paris," army spokesman colonel Stephane Spet said in a statement.
If you heard a very loud noise in Paris or the Paris region, don't worry. There was no explosion, it was a fighter plane that broke the sound barrier.— UK in France (@UKinFrance) September 30, 2020
Please don't call emergency lines. https://t.co/lznqMJThbP
He added that a seconds after the boom - which happened at an altitude of 10 km and was magnified by cloud cover - the passenger jet, an Embraer 145, reestablished contact with air traffic control.
France’s DGAC civil aviation authority said the warplane was despatched after contact was lost with two civil aircraft.
It said that one was a Falcon 50, operated by a private Brazilian company, on a flight between Cape Verde and Brussels. The other was an Embraer 145, operated by regional airline Amelia, on a flight between the French cities of Brives and Saint-Brieuc.
DGAC said communication with both aircraft had been restored, adding that it would launch an inquiry into why contact had been lost.