Shannon Airport’s importance to North Atlantic aviation was illustrated again when United Airlines flight UA-880 made an emergency landing there in the early hours yesterday. Sixteen people have been injured after a Heathrow-bound passenger jet hit severe turbulence and was forced to make an emergency landing.
Passengers on the United Airlines flight from Houston, Texas, to Heathrow, were taken to taken to University Hospital Limerick for treatment, after the plane touched down at Shannon in the early hours of yesterday morning. The pilots diverted to Shannon Airport in Ireland for the injured to be treated including two flight attendants, one with a suspected broken arm and another who was bleeding from a cut head.
— Pat Flynn (@patsyflynn) August 31, 2016
Three children were also treated in University Hospital Limerick after the plane was met on the runway by ambulance and paramedic crews. University Hospital Limerick said passengers and crew treated in its accident and emergency ward suffered soft tissue injuries, lacerations and minor head injuries. Eleven of the injured patients were discharged within four-and-a-half hours of the flight landing. It came after the aircraft experienced “severe and unexpected turbulence”, the airline said. One passenger reported the flight “plunging 4,000 feet” over the Atlantic during the ordeal. Altogether there were 220 people on board the Boeing 767-300 including 13 crew. Another plane was arranged to fly the final stretch of the journey to Heathrow just after midday while the jet remained in Shannon for investigators to assess.
A passenger on board Gregory Giagnocavo, in London to meet developers and technology experts as part of a three-day brainstorming trip across Europe, said many passengers were trying to sleep through the overnight flight and were strapped in. “It fell four times in a row,” he said.”It was a tremendous pull on the body. And on the third or fourth time babies starting waking up and crying, people were waking up disorientated. I thought this is not turbulence. This is what feels like a life-threatening drop. This is not like any feeling I have had. This is immediately like an experience of being fired from a cannon. It pulls you down so hard then it stops for a second and then it does that four times in a row. If you didn’t have your seat belt on you would have smashed your head.”
UA880 A number of pax and crew not wearing seat belts were tossed about and sustained injuries." https://t.co/u0s8tbrIxk
— PaxView Jeff (@JR_justJR) August 31, 2016
In a statement, United Airlines said: “United Airlines is providing care and support to customers and crew of flight UA-880 which experienced severe and unexpected turbulence during a flight from Houston to London Heathrow today. The aircraft diverted to Shannon Airport in Ireland where it was met by medical personnel. 14 customers and two flight attendants have been taken to a local hospital. We wish these passengers and crew a quick recovery from their injuries,”
The incident emphasises how important it is for passengers to keep their seatbelts on when seated, especially when sleeping, and how Shannon Airport with its long runway, clear airspace and EuroControl is essential to keeping flights safe over the Eastern Atlantic.
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