A U.S bound jet was forced to make a u-turn over the Atlantic and divert to Shannon Airport yesterday after a passenger on board became ill.
United Airlines flight UA-127 had departed Dublin at 12.47pm and was destined for Washington.
There were 174 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 757-200 jet which was about 90 minutes into it’s journey when the crew turned around.
At around 2.35pm, when flight was about 450 south west of Shannon, the crew contacted controllers at the Irish Aviation Authority’s (IAA) North Atlantic Communications Service centre at Ballygirreen in Co Clare.
The crew advised controllers that they needed to turn around and divert to the nearest suitable airport requesting emergency medical services to be on standby for their arrival.
The passenger was reported to be suffering from blood pressure issues and low heart rate.
The HSE’s National Ambulance Service (NAS) send and ambulance to the airport while a local doctor was also requested to attend.
Airport emergency services took up positions alongside the main runway at Shannon ahead of the jet’s arrival. Crash crews quickly pursued the jet down the runway once it touched down safely at 3.07pm to ensure the plane’s undercarriage didn’t overheat during the emergency landing.
The flight taxied to terminal building where it was met by airport authorities and medics. The passenger was assessed and stabilised onboard before being taken by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick for treatment.
The passenger’s baggage was removed from the aircraft, in accordance with security procedures, before the flight was able to continue it’s journey almost three hours later.
Shannon Airport is a designated emergency landing site for all aircraft types operating on the north Atlantic routes.
With the longest runway in Ireland, at 3.2 kilometres, the airport sees emergency diversions on an almost weekly basis.
So far this year there have been several medical diversions as well as technical and mechanical emergencies involving both civil and military aircraft.
Early last month, a jet used to refuel US military fighter aircraft was left crippled on the runway at Shannon Airport on Friday after making an emergency landing.
The Boeing KC-135R ‘Stratotanker’, which was travelling from Germany to the US with nine personnel on board, suffered a hydraulic failure forcing the crew to declare an emergency and divert to Shannon.