Finnish airspace violation ‘was a mistake’

Portuguese Air Force has said one of its surveillance planes “inadvertently” strayed into Finland’s airspace without permission.

The P-3 Orion aircraft based in Poland was on a NATO mission over the Baltic Sea on Monday when it made a turn and unintentionally went about 500 meters into Finnish airspace, according to the statement.

The explanation has been sent to Finnish authorities, who had initially reported the violation, AP reports. Portugal is a member of NATO, but Finland is not. The two countries have in the past taken part in joint military exercises.

Portuguese state-owned aircraft briefly entered Finnish airspace early Monday evening, Finnish authorities reported on Tuesday. According to preliminary information the plane appeared to be a model used for marine surveillance.

The incursion reportedly took place above the Upinniemi peninsula in Kirkkonummi, on Finland’s southern coast, at around 6.00pm on Monday. The area is roughly 40km west of the Finnish capital Helsinki.

Finland’s Border Guard is investigating the incident.

The Ministry of Defence’s communications chief Niina Hyrsky told news service STT that the airspace violation only lasted a few minutes.

Hyrsky said the aircraft flew along the border but did not stray far into Finnish territory.

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