Fire alert cargo jet lands in Shannon

Fire alert cargo jet lands in Shannon


The Atlas Air Jumbo parked on a remote taxiway at Shannon – © Pat Flynn 2014

A cargo jet carrying a consignment of flowers made an emergency landing at Shannon Airport yesterday after the crew reported a possible fire on board.

The Atlas Air Boeing 747-400 freighter, with the radio callsign ‘Giant 5421’, was en route from Florida to the Netherlands at the time.

While the airline is the largest provider of wide-body commercial cargo airlift service for the US military, it’s known that it wasn’t carrying any hazardous cargo yesterday.

It’s understood the Jumbo Jet was transporting 110 tonnes of flowers from Miami to Amsterdam. There was a crew of five on board and they donned their oxygen masks as a precaution.

The flight was about an hour west of Ireland when the crew reported a fire indication in the rear main deck of the jet and requested fire crews to be on standby for their arrival.

The crew had been in contact with air traffic controllers at the Irish Aviation Authority’s North Atlantic Communications Service radio centre at Ballygirreen in Co. Clare when they declared an emergency.

The pilot also told controllers at Shannon that they would need to stop on the runway so that an inspection of the jet could be undertaken to “determine whether and evacuation would be necessary.”

The massive jet touched down safely at 2.07pm and was met by airport crash crews who quickly surrounded the aircraft.

Fire crews used infra-red equipment to scan the plane’s fuselage for any abnormal heat readings. Fire personnel also checked the aircraft’s undercarriage to ensure the braking system hadn’t overheat or caught during the emergency landing.

When no evidence of a fire was found the jet was able to taxi to it’s parking position where a further more detailed investigation was carried out by fire crews.

One of the jet’s undercarriage bogey’s was found to be smoking after the plane had parked however fire crew quickly dealt with that.

It’s believed that the fire indication was a false alarm although heat from the flowers may have triggered the system.

Last March, another jet carrying flowers from the US to the Netherlands diverted to Shannon after reporting a similar issue.

Cargolux flight CV-765, also a Boeing 747-400 freighter, was enroute from Puerto Rico, to Maastricht in the Netherlands at the time.

The crew reported an alarm in the cockpit that indicated there was a fire in the cargo hold. The pilot declared an emergency and had intended diverting to Cardiff Airport however thick fog there forced the crew to turn around and land at Shannon.

Yesterday’s incident was the fifth diversion to Shannon in nine days. These included a private jet and a commercial passenger airliner that suffered engine failures over the Atlantic.

Another was a medical emergency while on Thursday night, a corporate jet with hydraulic issues also made an unscheduled landing at Shannon.

Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.