On a flight from the Swedish city of Gothenburg to the Lithuanian port city of Klaipėda, the Palanga airport in Lithuania sometimes took a long time to respond to messages, says the Swedish airport chief who escorted the Lithuanian pilots who later went missing above the Baltic Sea.
Palanga Airport
© Organizatorių nuotr.

"Often I call them, no answer. What they do in the tower, I don't know. Maybe there is a bad radio (signal)," Kjell Brattfors, the head of the Kattleberg airport in Gothenburg, told BNS in a telephone interview on Sunday.

Brattfors said he had made a number of flights from Gothenburg to Klaipėda but never encountered similar problems of getting in touch with flight controllers.

"This was six or seven years ago. What I hear from the pilots is about the same problems," said the Swedish pilot.

In his words, the An-2 aircraft that the Lithuanians flew had undergone its last check two weeks prior to the flight, the pilots were extremely experienced and could not have made a mistake.

"Two guys with 15,000 hours and flying with Antonov-2 for 40 years do not make mistakes. There must be some serious problems. What they are, I have no idea. Thousands of different things could have happened," said Brattfors.

Alvydas Šumskas, deputy director of the Lithuanian Civil Aviation Administration, told BNS he had not heard any complaints in this respect before, but could not rule out that poor weather conditions could hinder the signals.

In his words, the pilots made successful contact with the Lithuanian flight control zone after entering it on Saturday afternoon.

"This was the first and the last communication after entering the Lithuanian flight control zone, they reported their location and altitude," said Šumskas.

Loss of communication with the civilian airplane An-2 was reported on Saturday evening. No traces of the aircraft were discovered by Sunday evening.

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