The Government jet carrying the Taoiseach made an emergency landing yesterday after the crew reported a technical issue with the aircraft.
The Irish Air Corps Learjet 45, operating under the callsign ‘Irish 258V’, took off from Knock shortly after 4.00pm.
At the time, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and a number of officials were on board the aircraft which was en route to Brussels for crunch talks on the Greek crisis.
Soon after leaving Knock, the crew made contact with air traffic controllers at Shannon seeking permission to climb to 13,000ft. The crew gave no indication at this point that they had an issue with the aircraft.
Controllers cleared the flight to climb to the higher altitude of 23,000ft. Soon afterwards however, the pilot requested permission to stop their climb at 10,000ft ‘for a moment’.
After appearing to resolve the issue, the crew asked air traffic controllers at Shannon for permission to climb again and was cleared to an altitude of 27,000ft.
Just a few minutes later the crew contacted controllers and again asked to stop climbing confirming they wished to divert and land at Baldonnel. The crew was cleared to stop their climb at 15,000ft.
In their next communication with controllers the pilot declared a ‘pan’. A ‘Pan’ radio call is used by crews to signify an urgency on board but no immediate danger to passengers or the aircraft.
The crew sought clearance to divert and land at Baldonnel where the jet landed safely at around 4.24pm.
Its now understood that the crew received a warning light in the cockpit indicating a possible fault with one of the jet’s thrust reversers. The reverses are used to help slow the jet after landing by redirecting engine exhaust forward.
An Irish Air Corps spokesperson confirmed that the flight continued its journey after spending about 48 minutes on the ground during which time engineers resolved the issue.
The flight continued to Brussels where it landed shortly before 6.30pm.
The Air Corps Learjet 45 entered service in 2004 and operates usually in an Ministerial Air Transport role but regularly carries out national and international patient transfer services in conjunction with the Department of Health and Children.