The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) of the Department of Transport has concluded its investigation into an incident involving the private jet of billionaire businessman JP McManus.
Businessman and racehorse owner Mr McManus was on board the aircraft when the crew declared an emergency on July 7th 2019 after the jet suffered an engine failure.
The Gulfstream G650 jet had departed from Shannon at around 4.30pm on the day and was about to enter UK airspace about 15 minutes later when the incident occurred over Waterford. There were four people on board. Two pilots, a cabin attendant and a passenger believed to have been Mr McManus.
While climbing through 29,000, an amber ‘L [Left] ENGINE MAINTENANCE’ message appeared on the Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS). This was quickly followed by an Electronic Engine Controller (EEC) commanded shutdown of the left-hand engine with an associated red ‘L ENGINE FAIL’ message on the EICAS.
The right-hand engine reverted to an alternate control mode. The Pilots issued a PANPAN radio distress message to air traffic controllers. This was later upgraded to the more serious MAYDAY call as the crew returned to Shannon for an emergency landing.
While the crew was in a holding pattern troubleshooting the issue, they communicated with the Aircraft Manufacturer’s technical support team. At this time, the aircraft satellite phone was not working as cabin power to that system had been shed when the engine shutdown. Communication was therefore achieved by relaying messages through the Operator’s engineering team via VHF radio.
Following this communication, the flight crew considered other significant factors such as weather, workload, aircraft weight, single engine performance and available runway length at EINN. The Commander decided that due to the suddenness of the shutdown, and the fact that the right-hand engine was in alternate mode, the best course of action was to land the aircraft as soon as possible.
During the first approach to Shannon, the crew received a landing gear door open caution message. The flight crew discontinued the approach and the message extinguished. The flight crew flew a second approach and the message did not recur. The crew performed a normal landing at around 7.00pm and taxied to a hanger where the passenger and crew disembarked normally.
On the ground at Shannon, emergency procedures were put in place. Airport fire and rescue crews were deployed to designated holding points along Shannon’s main runway while units of Clare County Fire and Rescue Service from Shannon Town and Ennis were mobilised to the airport along with ambulances and rapid response advanced paramedic unit.
Mr McManus was later seen exiting the Westair Aviation base and walking to his private helicopter which then flew him to his home near Kilmallock, Co Limerick.
The AAIU report cited as the ‘Probable Cause’ of the incident: “The left-hand engine EEC was unable to control its VSV system resulting in an EEC-initiated IFSD of the left-hand engine.
The investigation also found there were two ‘Contributory Causes’. Read the full report here.
The €55m jet, acquired by Mr McManus in 2014, is based at Shannon Airport. The jet was the first G650 to be registered in Ireland and carries the registration EI-JSK, featuring the initials of McManus’s children John, Sue Ann, and Kieran.