By Patrick Flynn
Gardaí have confirmed they are satisfied there was no threat to an aircraft that diverted to Shannon Airport yesterday because of a reported bomb threat.
Handwriting experts were brought in to test passengers after a warning note was found in the toilet.
The crew of United Airlines flight 971 declared an emergency over the Atlantic and turned around before landing at Shannon. The crew spent about 20 minutes dumping aviation fuel over the sea to ensure they touched down within safe landing weight limits.
The crew reported they had a possible ‘security issue’ on board and wished to land at Shannon. It’s understood that a note, written on a surface in a toilet, suggested there was a a bomb on board.
There were 214 passengers and crew on board the Chicago-bound aircraft which had left Rome just three hours earlier.
The Boeing 767 jet landed safely at 1.42pm and was escorted to a remote taxiway and met by airport police and Gardaí.
Passengers were requested to provide handwriting samples as part of the investigation while all passengers and crew members were interviewed by Gardaí.
The flight was later cancelled. Passengers were provided with refreshments during their time in the airport before being sent to hotels for the night. They will continue to their destination this afternoon.
While the passengers and their hand luggage underwent additional security screening, any baggage in the cargo hold could not be checked until the flight’s actual travel time had elapsed. This is a normal procedure for such security alerts.
A Garda spokesman said: “We are satisfied there was no threat to the aircraft. All the passengers and crew were interviewed and will continue their journey at 3 o’clock today”.
There have been a number of similar incidents at Shannon Airport in the past. The most recent was in January 2016 when Turkish Airlines flight 34 was forced to divert to Shannon following a bomb threat.
The crew became aware of the threat after a written note was discovered on board.