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A fighter plane on an intervention mission broke the sound barrier, Wednesday, in the middle of the day, east of Paris, causing a loud bang heard in the capital and even in several departments of the Paris region.
The concern spread to the capital for a few minutes. A loud bang was heard on Wednesday, September 30, in Paris and its surroundings, leaving its inhabitants to fear the worst, but it was actually a Gust, forced to cross the sound barrier to intercept an airliner in difficulty.
The noise, heard throughout the capital and in several departments of the Paris region, immediately caused a reaction on social networks. In the middle of a tennis match, at the Roland-Garros tournament, players Stanislas Wawrinka and Dominik Köpfer even paused while scanning the sky.
The doubt was quickly raised: “there is no explosion, it is about a fighter plane which crossed the sound barrier”, reassured on Twitter the prefecture of police of Paris, putting an end to speculation in a city ravaged by several terrorist attacks in recent years. The police immediately called on the population not to “encumber the emergency lines”.
A very important noise was heard in Paris and in the Paris region. There is no explosion, it is about a fighter plane which crossed the sound barrier.
Don’t clutter up the emergency lines!
– Police Prefecture (@prefpolice) September 30, 2020
The Air Force then provided details: a Rafale on mission caused this noise by crossing the sound barrier “east of Paris”. By exceeding a speed of Mach 1 (about 1,200 km / h, greater than the speed of sound), the fighter aircraft triggered a sound wave producing a powerful detonation noise, called a supersonic “bang”.
The Rafale, which had taken off from the Saint-Dizier base, was initially supposed to join a Falcon 50 in western France having temporarily lost contact with air traffic control. Contact is reestablished but the Rafale is called upon to “assist another aircraft in loss of contact”, making a Brive-Saint Brieuc link and approaching southwest of Paris, explained the spokesperson for the Air and Space Army, Colonel Stéphane Spet.
More than 400 abnormal situations in 2019
According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC), the Embraer plane was in “radio frequency loss” as it flew over western France. “Communication has since been restored” according to this authority, which emphasizes that this type of problem occurs “regularly”.
“The sky police is a permanent mission, provided by the Air Force, which aims to protect the French from any air threat,” recalls on Twitter the Air Defense and Air Operations Command (CDAOA), based in Lyon-Mont Verdun.
In 2019, the Air Force thus faced 450 abnormal situations, including 210 requiring intervention by fighter planes and helicopters, details the CDAOA.