The same British Airways passenger jet was forced to divert to Shannon Airport twice in just three days after suffering mechanical problems over the Atlantic.
The crew of the 16-year-old Boeing 777-200(ER) (registration G-VIIS) declared an emergency shortly before 10.00am yesterday while approaching the Donegal coast en route from Seattle, Washington in the US to London Heathrow.
There were 220 passengers and crew on board the flight BAW-48 when the pilot advised air traffic controllers of their problem and that they wished to divert to Shannon Airport.
The pilot reported an oil leak in the right engine which they shut down before issuing a Pan-Pan distress call. A ‘Pan’ distress call signifies an urgency on board but it differs from a May-Day emergency because the aircraft or passengers are not in any immediate danger.
Airport crash and rescue crews were standing by at strategic locations along the runway ahead of the jet’s arrival. The flight touched down safely, with just one engine operating, at 10.24am.
Accompanied by fire crews, the jet taxied to the terminal where firefighters inspected the jet’s undercarriage for any sign of overheating as a result of the emergency landing.
Engineers were also standing by to investigate the affected engine.
Just one incoming flight was affected during the Incident. An in-bound Ryanair jet was placed in a holding pattern for a short time while a runway inspection was carried out to ensure no contamination was left after the emergency aircraft had landed.
Shortly after 2.30pm a replacement aircraft was sent from Heathrow to Shannon to take the passengers onto their destination.
An airline spokeswoman said: “Our flight diverted to Shannon due to a minor technical issue. Our cabin crew looked after the customers on board. Safety is always our first priority and we would never compromise that.”
The airline also said that the issue on Friday was unrelated to yesterday’s incident.
“Our highly qualified engineers resolved the issue with the aircraft on Friday. This is an unrelated issue,” the spokeswoman said.
On Friday night, the same jet, operating as flight BAW-215 from London Heathrow to Boston, turned around over the Atlantic and also diverted to Shannon.
The crew reported a fault in one of the jet’s generators and requested permission to dump fuel and divert to Shannon.
The ‘fuel jettison procedure’, carried out to ensure the jet touched down within safe landing weight limits, took about 25 minutes and resulted in several tonnes of aviation fuel being dumped over the Atlantic.
The jet touched down safely at 6.58pm and was quickly pursued along the runway by crash and rescue crews. The flight was able to continue it’s journey to Boston about two hours later.
Just 12 months ago, on November 14th 2013, the same jet made an emergency landing at Shannon after the crew reported smoke on board.
Flight 173 was travelling from London to New York and was over two hours into it’s journey when it turned around and diverted to Shannon. The plane landed safely shortly and was met by emergency services.