Smoke in cockpit forces flight to return to Cork Airport

A flight from Cork to London was forced into a mid-air U-turn after smoke was reportedly spotted in the plane’s cockpit.

Aer Lingus flight EI 712 Cork to London Heathrow returned to Cork yesterday afternoon shortly after departure due to what the airline described as “a technical issue with the aircraft”.

“The aircraft, with 151 guests and crew on board landed safely at Cork Airport at 13:28,” an Aer Lingus spokesperson said.

“The captain had declared an emergency landing and emergency services were in attendance at Cork Airport as a result. 

“Following landing at Cork a number of guests exited the aircraft via the over-wing emergency exits and slides. The majority of the guests disembarked the aircraft normally via steps.”

Paul McDonagh, 28, was on the plane, and was due to connect at Heathrow for a flight to New York.

He described the experience as ‘nerve-wracking’, saying: “35 or 40 minutes into the flight out of nowhere over the intercom the pilot said we have to return to Cork due to an emergency. It was discomforting and people were anxious.”

Mr McDonagh said that, upon landing in Cork, people were instructed to leave their belongings onboard and to exit the plane as quickly as possible.

He said passengers had to wait at Cork Airport for a number of hours before they could retrieve their belongings, as the plane was sealed pending an investigation by aviation authorities.

Flight tracking websites show the flight left Cork just after 12.30pm yesterday and was in the air for around half an hour over the Irish Sea before it started its turn back to Ireland.

Cork Airport remained open throughout the duration of the incident.

An airport spokesperson said: “A full activation of the airport’s emergency plan was deployed with Cork City and Cork County Fire Services as well as HSE Ambulances turning out in support of the Cork Airport Fire and Police Service.”

A full technical investigation is now under way.

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