A US bound flight had to turn back over the Atlantic and divert to Shannon Airport this evening so the crew could seek medical attention for an ill passenger.
British Airways flight BA-209 was travelling from London’s Heathrow airport to Miami, Florida at the time. The flight departed Heathrow at around 2.45pm and was about three hours into its journey when the crew made a U-turn over the Atlantic.
It is understood the Boeing 747-400 jet was over 1,200 kilometres south west of Ireland when a passenger became unwell. It’s also believed that the crew had sought advice from professionals at a dedicated medical centre before a decision was made to divert to the nearest suitable airport.
At around 5.15pm, the flight crew advised air traffic controllers in Ireland that they wished to turn around and divert to Shannon. The crew also confirmed they would have to dump aviation fuel to ensure they touched down within safe landing weight limits.
Airport authorities were notified of the incoming emergency while the National Ambulance Service was also requested to dispatch resources to Shannon.
Shannon’s airport fire and rescue service was alerted and crews were mobilised to designated standby positions adjacent to the airport’s runway. This is a precautionary measure and standard procedure at Shannon when an aircraft has dumped aviation fuel.
The flight landed safely at 6.35pm and was pursued along the runway by fire crews who also accompanied the jet to the terminal where ambulance paramedics were standing by.
An airline spokesman confirmed: “We apologised to our customers for the delay to their journey after our flight diverted to Shannon as a customer became unwell onboard and needed medical attention. Our teams are looking after our customers and keeping them up to date.”
The flight is expected to continue to Miami later this evening once the aircraft has been refuelled and crew receives a new flight plan.
Shannon Airport has dealt with around 60 unscheduled landings so far this year including medical emergencies, security alerts, fire indications and reported odours or fumes on board.