A passenger jet had to burn off thousands of litres of fuel before it could safely land in Shannon yesterday (Sunday) after suffering a navigation systems failure which prevented it from crossing the Atlantic.
US Airways flight AWE-711 was travelling from Zurich in Switzerland to Philadelphia in the US and was about 200 kilometres west of the Clare Coast after commencing its oceanic crossing when the problem was first reported.
Shortly after 1.40pm the pilot contacted air traffic controllers in Shannon to inform them that he had no navigation systems and advised them that they would have to divert and land in Shannon.
The crew of the Boeing 767-200 made a u-turn and routed back towards the Clare coast where they entered a holding pattern in an effort to burn off excess fuel. This was to ensure the jet could land within safe landing weight limits.
The pilot confirmed they would have to burn up to 11,000 pounds of fuel before they could commence their approach to Shannon. After spending over an hour circling over the Atlantic off the Clare coast the flight landed safely at Shannon shortly before 3.00pm.
The flight was grounded while engineers investigated the issue. The flight was later cancelled while the 110 passengers and crew were accommodated in hotels in Limerick and Clare last night (Sunday). They were due to return to Shannon early today (Monday) to continue their journey to the US.
It was the third time this month that US Airways flights had to divert to Irish airports.
On May 10th US Airways flight AWE-715 from Venice, Italy to Philadelphia was forced to make a u-turn over the Atlantic and divert to Dublin after crew members fell ill. 9 flight attendants were hospitalised following that diversion.
On May 19th, the same flight, operated by different Airbus A330 aircraft, was also forced to turn around and divert to Dublin after 3 three flight attendants fell ill.
Fumes on board the aircraft are understood to have been the cause of both diversions.