on Sept. 30, 2020, a loud sonic boom of the jet flying at supersonic speed was heard all over Paris and neighboring suburbs. A loud bang was heard as a French Rafale flew at supersonic speed while responding to a COMLOSS (Communication Loss) event.
The French fighter, from BA 113 Saint-Dizier was responding to a COMLOSS event: a civilian Embraer ERJ 145, flying from Brive to Saint-Brieuc, had lost radio contact with the Air Traffic Control agencies.
The Rafale was already in flight, to intercept a Falcon 50, when the CDAOA (Commandement de la défense aérienne et des opérations aériennes – Air Defense and Air Operations Command) based at Lyon Mont-Verdun, retasked it to intercept the ERJ145.
The French jet went supersonic at 11.42LT, when it was flying at about 33,000 feet over the eastern part of Paris. The atmospheric conditions caused the sonic boom to be quite strong, rattling Parisians already on edge after a knife attack outside the former offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo last week, that the government has called an act of terror.
The loud bang also forced the players at the French Open tennis tournment to halt for a while judging the sound which resembled an explosion:
The military said the jet was scrambled to go to the aid of another aircraft that had lost radio contact, and was authorised to travel at supersonic speed.
“A very loud noise was heard in Paris and in the Paris region. It was not an explosion, it was a fighter jet crossing the sound barrier,” Paris police said on Twitter, urging people to stop calling emergency phone lines.
The noise, which was heard all over the city and neighbouring suburbs and shook windows, rattled Parisians already on edge after a knife attack outside the former offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo last week that the government has called an act of terror.
“A Rafale, carrying out an intervention to assist an aircraft that had lost contact, was authorised to break the sound barrier to reach the aircraft in difficulty,” a French air force spokesman told AFP.
No detail was given on the type of aircraft or the nature of its difficulty. The spokesman said the fighter emitted its sonic boom over the east of Paris.
France’s DGAC civil aviation authority played down the seriousness of the incident, saying that a plane made by Brazil’s Embraer had suffered “a loss of radio frequency” while flying over the west of France but that contact was re-established.
It explained such situations take place “regularly,” In 2019, the French air force counted 450 abnormal aviation situations, 210 of which needed intervention by fighter jets or helicopters.