Over 200 holidaymakers left stranded at Shannon Airport yesterday continued their journey late last night.
Their jet was forced to make a u-turn over the Atlantic and make a dash for Shannon Airport after an alarm in the cockpit indicated a possible fire in a rear toilet.
Condor flight DE-4156 was en route from Frankfurt, Germany to Cancun in Mexico when the pilot declared an emergency at around 3.30pm.
The Boeing 767-300 jet, with 238 passengers and crew on board, was about 800 kilometres west of Ireland when the pilot reported a smoke warning in the cockpit.
The crew reported that the alarm indicated smoke in a toilet at the rear of the aircraft.
Emergency procedures at Shannon Airport were put in place while An Garda, National Ambulance Service and local authority fire services were also alerted.
Four units of the fire brigade from Shannon along with three additional appliances from Ennis were mobilised to the airport. Ambulances from Ennis and Limerick along with a rapid response advanced paramedic unit were also sent to Shannon.
Crash crew took up positions at strategic locations along the runway so they could quickly pursue the aircraft when it landed. The jet landed safely at 4.21pm and taxied off the runway where it was quickly surrounded by fire crews.
With water hoses at the ready, fire crews carried out an external inspection of the fuselage to see if there was any evidence of fire or scorching. Firefighters also used thermal imaging cameras to search for any hotspots in the fuselage.
An inspection of the jet’s undercarriage was also carried out to ensure the braking system didn’t overheat during the emergency landing.
The pilots shut down the aircraft’s two engines while mobile stairs were brought out so that fire crews could board and carry out a visual inspection inside the plane.
After fire officers confirmed that they could find no evidence of fire or smoke the jet was towed to the terminal building where engineers were waiting to investigate the problem.
A replacement aircraft and new crew were expected in Shannon last night (Thursday) to take the passengers onward to their destination.
Only one inbound flight was affected by the emergency diversion. An Aer Lingus service from London was placed in a holding pattern for about 10 minutes before it was cleared to land.
The airline confirmed: “The aircraft returned to Shannon as a precaution after about 3.5 hours of flight time due to a light smoke development in a lavatory in the back of the aircraft. There was no smoke in the cockpit.”
The airline confirmed that engineers were also due in Shannon last night on board the replacement aircraft. The company also said passengers were being taken care of in the airport.
The pilot also thanked air traffic control staff and the emergency services for their professionalism.