A transatlantic jet diverted to Shannon Airport yesterday when a woman went into labour less than an hour into the flight.
Delta Airlines flight DL-603 was en route from Amsterdam in The Netherlands to Altanta in the US. There were 230 passengers and crew on board.
The Boeing 767-300 jet was over Blackpool in England and about the cross the Irish Sea and Northern Ireland when the crew declared a medical emergency.
After examining the options for an emergency landing, the crew opted to route to Shannon even though the flight was closed to several airports including Dublin and Manchester.
The crew requested permission from air traffic controllers to reroute and land at Shannon.
The pilot also sought a “full complement of medical personnel” to meet the aircraft on landing as the woman’s contractions were “getting closer.”
It had been feared the woman would go into labour before the flight landed as her contractions were reported to be about a minute apart in the final moments before touch down.
Emergency medical services were placed on standby for the aircraft which was given permission for a high speed approach.
The flight touched down safely at 1.50pm and was met at the terminal building by ambulances paramedics.
The woman was assessed on board before being rushed to University Maternity Hospital Limerick.
The woman was admitted to the hospital and gave birth soon afterwards.
It’s understood that mother and child are doing well and that the woman was almost full term, believed to be around 37 weeks gestation.
While some airlines may request a doctor’s letter from any expectant mother travelling within four weeks of her due date, according to Delta’s website the airline “does not impose restrictions on flying for pregnant women, so a medical certificate is not required to travel.”
The airline advises however: “If you’re traveling after your eight month, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to be sure travel is not restricted.”
Shortly after 3.20pm the flight continued it’s journey to Atlanta after the passengers baggage had been removed, in accordance with security procedures, and the aircraft had been refuelled and the crew refiled it’s flight plan.