Flight diverts to Shannon with ill passenger

Flight diverts to Shannon with ill passenger


File Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

A US-bound passenger jet made a U-turn over the Atlantic and diverted to Shannon Airport this afternoon after a the crew declared a medical emergency.

Delta Air Lines flight DL-31 was travelling from London Heathrow to Atlanta in the US at the time. There were 307 passengers and crew on board.

The flight had already flown through Irish airspace having departed Heathrow at around 12.10pm. The Airbus A330-300 jet was almost three hours into it’s journey when the crew made contact with doctors at a specialist centre in the US. After consulting medics, the crew opted to turn around and divert to Shannon.

Airport fire crews took up positions on taxiways adjacent to the runway in advance of the aircraft’s arrival. This was a precautionary measure in case the jet’s braking system overheated during the emergency landing.

After making a safe landing at 5.06pm, the aircraft was accompanied to the terminal building by emergency vehicles and met by HSE ambulance paramedics and a doctor. Medics quickly board the aircraft where they assessed the passenger who was later removed to University Hospital Limerick for treatment.

The flight continued its journey to the US about 95 minutes after diverting.

An airline spokeswoman said: “Flight 31 from London to Atlanta diverted to Shannon after the crew consulted StatMD about a medical emergency onboard. The flight departed Shannon at 6:44p local time.”

File Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

Last May, a Delta Air Lines flight diverted to Shannon Airport after a crew member fell ill. The crew member was removed to hospital for treatment while the flight was subsequently cancelled and passengers sent to hotels for the night.

In May 2017, an elderly man died on board a Delta Air Lines flight that diverted to Shannon.

Delta Air Lines flight DL-71 was en route from Amsterdam to Atlanta when the crew Shannon reported they had an 88-year-old man on board who was unresponsive.

Despite the best efforts of cabin crew to resuscitate the man, he was pronounced dead shortly after the flight landed.

Of the 113 unscheduled landings at Shannon Airport last year, 24 were medical emergencies. In three cases passengers had passed away before landing or reaching hospital.


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.