Jet diverts to Shannon with heart attack passenger

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015
The flight landed safely shortly after 7.30am and the passenger removed to hospital – File Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

A transatlantic jet was forced to make an emergency landing at Shannon Airport yesterday after a passenger on board suffered a heart attack.

United Airlines flight UA-972 was en route from Chicago in the U.S. to Brussels, Belgium when the crew declared an emergency and requested permission to divert to Shannon.

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The pilot made contact with the Irish Aviation Authority’s (IAA) North Atlantic Communications Service centre at Ballygirreen in Co Clare and advised controllers of the situation.

At around 6.40am, while the Boeing 777-200 was still over the Atlantic and about 500 kilometres north west of Shannon, the crew confirmed they had a female passenger in the forward cabin whom they suspected was in cardiac arrest.

The flight was cleared to change course and route towards Shannon while the crew requested emergency medical services to be standing by. Cabin crew members tended to the passenger in the meantime.

A HSE ambulance and rapid response advanced paramedic unit along with a local doctor were waiting for the flight when it landed shortly after 7.30am.

Medics quickly boarded the flight to assess the passenger who was seated at the front of the aircraft in the first class cabin. The passenger was rushed to University Hospital Limerick for treatment.

The flight was able to continue it’s journey to Brussels once a new flight plan had been filed and the ill passenger’s baggage had been located and removed in accordance with security procedures.

It was the airport’s second medical emergency in recent days and this diversion in a fortnight.

On Tuesday night, a British Airways flight from London to New York was forced to turned around over the Atlantic and divert to Shannon after a passenger fell ill. The Boeing 777-200 was almost 1,000 west of Ireland when the crew made a U-turn and diverted.

Earlier this month, an Air Canada flight diverted to Shannon Airport after a 79-year-old first class passenger became disruptive and bit and scratched a cabin crew member.

The woman, believed to be originally from Estonia but flying on a Canadian passport, was travelling from Frankfurt in Germany to the Canadian city of Toronto.

Air Canada flight ACA-877 was about 1,200 kilometres north west of Shannon and about three hours into it’s journey when the crew opted to turn around.

The woman was arrested on arrival at Shannon Airport but was later released without charge.

While a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions it’s not expected that any further action will take place.

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