A transatlantic jet has been forced to turn around over the Atlantic and divert to Shannon Airport after the crew reported they had an ill passenger on board.
Air Canada flight AC-897 was travelling from Athens, Greece to Toronto in Canada and was about 45 minutes west of Ireland when the pilots made a U-turn.
The crew of the Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner jet made contact with air traffic controllers at the Irish Aviation Authority’s North Atlantic Communications Centre at Ballygirreen in Co Clare to advise them of their situation.
The flight crew confirmed they had a seriously ill elderly passenger on board and wished to divert to Shannon, requesting emergency medical services to be informed and standing by.
The crew also sought clearance to dump aviation fuel over the ocean. This is to ensure that the aircraft touched down in Shannon within safe landing weight limits. At Shannon, the airport’s fire and rescue service was alerted and requested to turn out. This is normal procedure at Shannon for an aircraft that has jettisoned fuel before landing.
The aircraft landed safely at 4.13pm and was accompanied to the terminal building by airport fire crews who checked the jet’s undercarriage to ensure the brakes hadn’t overheated during the emergency landing.
At the terminal, National Ambulance Service paramedics; a doctor; airport staff and ground crews were waiting for the aircraft.
The passenger, understood to be an elderly man, was assessed and treated on board the aircraft before being removed by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick for treatment. It’s believed that the man was accompanied by a family member who also travelled to the hospital.
The flight continued its journey to Canada at 6.00pm.
Meanwhile, emergency services at Shannon were placed on standby earlier for an aircraft that suffered engine problems off the southwest coast.
Brussels Airlines flight SN-510 was travelling from Athens, Greece to New York in the US when the crew declared an emergency and requested clearance to divert to Shannon.
The flight had been cleared to divert to Shannon Airport however, at around 12.30pm, the crew advised air traffic controllers at Shannon that they wished to continue and divert to Dublin instead. It’s understood the flight decided to divert to Dublin to allow them time to burn off additional fuel to ensure they touched down within safe landing weight limits.
The aircraft landed safely at 1.15pm and was followed to the terminal by airport fire and rescue crews. Engineers are investigating the source of the problem.