Flight diverts to Shannon with ‘unruly passenger’

Flight diverts to Shannon with ‘unruly passenger’

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Update:

4.30pm – The flight continued to Dallas at 4.10pm.

American Airlines flight 71 at Shannon this afternoon – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2020

A US-bound flight has made an emergency at Shannon Airport this afternoon after the crew reported they had a ‘unruly passenger’ on board.

American Airlines flight AA-71 was travelling from Frankfurt, Germany to Dallas in the U.S. when the flight crew issued a Mayday radio distress call at around 12.30pm.

It’s understood the man had been ‘moving around the aircraft’ and ‘acting strangely’ possibly as a result of a medical episode. The crew reported the passenger was suffering from a ‘psychotic’ episode.

A number of passengers became concerned and are understood to have overpowered and subdued the man. It’s believed they jumped into action because others on board were worried about the man’s behaviour.

The pilots also sought permission to dump aviation fuel to ensure they touched down within safe landing weight limits.

As the flight routed towards Shannon, the crew further advised controllers that they would require additional time to jettison fuel and so the flight was cleared to route back out over the ocean to continue with the fuel dumping operations.

Airport Fire and Rescue Service and Shannon Fire Service crews at Shannon this afternoon – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2020

On the ground at Shannon, the airport’s fire and rescue service was alerted while the local authority fire service, National Ambulance Service and An Garda Síochána were also notified and requested to mobilise resources to the scene.

Units of Clare County Fire and Rescue Service from Shannon Town were sent to the airport while crews from Ennis station were mobilised to a designated holding point adjacent the M18 motorway in case they would be required.

The aircraft landed safely at 1.33pm and was met on landing by airport and local authority fire crews. There were 285 passengers and crew on board.

The airplane taxied to the terminal where it was met by airport police officers, Gardaí and ambulance paramedics. The passenger was removed from the aircraft and assessed by medical personnel before being transported to University Hospital Limerick for assessment accompanied by Gardaí.

An airline spokesperson confirmed: “American Airlines flight AA71 from Frankfurt to Dallas/Fort Worth diverted to Shannon due to an unruly passenger. The flight landed safely without incident and was met by security personnel. The aircraft is scheduled to refuel and to continue to Dallas/Fort Worth.”

A Garda spokesman said: “The passenger was assessed by ambulance paramedics after being removed from the aircraft. He was transported to hospital by ambulance for assessment with Gardaí accompanying him. The course of the investigation will be determined by the outcome of the medical assessment.”

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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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