Diverted flight to continue journey today

Diverted flight to continue journey today

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Flight 971 on a remote taxiway at Shannon yesterday – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2018

Gardaí have confirmed they are satisfied there was no threat to an aircraft that diverted to Shannon Airport yesterday because of a reported bomb threat.

The crew of United Airlines flight 971 declared an emergency over the Atlantic and turned around before landing at Shannon about an hour later. The crew spent about 20 minutes dumping aviation fuel over the sea to ensure they touched down within safe landing weight limits.

The crew reported they had a possible ‘security issue’ on board and wished to land at Shannon. It’s understood that a note, written on a surface in a toilet, suggested there was a a bomb on board.

There were 214 passengers and crew on board the Chicago-bound aircraft which had left Rome just three hours earlier.

The Boeing 767 jet landed safely at 1.42pm and was escorted to a remote taxiway and met by airport police and Gardaí. Units of the fire brigade from Shannon Town along with a number of ambulances were sent to the airport. Additional units of the fire service from Ennis were placed on standby at a dedicated holding point at Dromoland.

United flight 971 after landing at Shannon – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2018

Passengers were requested to provide handwriting samples as part of the investigation while all passengers and crew members were interviewed by Gardaí.

The flight was later cancelled. Passengers were provided with refreshments during their time in the airport before being sent to hotels for the night. They will continue to their destination this afternoon.

While the passengers and their hand luggage underwent additional security screening, any baggage in the cargo hold could not be checked until the flight’s actual travel time had elapsed. This is a normal procedure for such security alerts.

A Garda spokesman said: “We are satisfied there was no threat to the aircraft. All the passengers and crew were interviewed and will continue their journey at 3 o’clock today”.

There have been a number of similar incidents at Shannon Airport in the past. The most recent was in January 2016 when Turkish Airlines flight 34 was forced to divert to Shannon following a bomb threat.

The crew became aware of the threat after a written note was discovered on board.

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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.

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