A US military transport plane diverted to Shannon Airport early this morning after declaring an emergency over the Atlantic.
The United States Air Force (USAF) Lockheed Hercules C130J aircraft was making its way to the USAF air base at Ramstein in Germany. Using the callsign HERKY69, the flight had originated in the US and made a technical stop at St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada before continuing across the Atlantic.
At around 6.15am, while the turboprop aircraft was still west of Ireland, the crew declared an emergency and requested clearance to divert to Shannon Airport. The crew confirmed they were experiencing a ‘pressurisation’ issue with their aircraft. It’s understood there were six personnel on board.
The flight was cleared to reroute to Shannon while the crew also requested clearance to descend to a lower altitude. Aircraft with pressurisation issues usually descend to 10,000 feet or lower to protect passengers and crew from medical problems than can result from a aircraft not being adequately pressurised.
As the flight flew south of the Aran Islands and over North Clare en route to Shannon, on the ground at the airport, emergency procedures were implemented with the local authority fire service; National Ambulance Service and Gardaí all being alerted and requested to deploy resources to the airport.
Units of Clare County Fire and Rescue Service from Shannon and Ennis stations were dispatched to the airport along with two ambulances, a paramedic response car and local Gardaí.
The flight landed safely at 7.03am and was followed along the runway by airport and local authority fire crews who also accompanied the aircraft to its parking stand.
Fire crews remained with the aircraft until the pilots confirmed that all operations were normal. Once this was confirmed, emergency services were stood down.
In the meantime, following the emergency landing, a routine inspection of the runway was carried before the next inbound flight was cleared to land. This was to ensure there was not debris left behind by the landing aircraft. Operations at Shannon Airport were not affected during the emergency.