Delta plane makes emergency landing at Shannon airport

Transatlantic flight to Amsterdam forced to stop after cargo hold fire warning

Delta flight DL-73 was travelling from Amsterdam to Atlanta in the US when the crew declared an emergency over Co Leitrim. Photograph: Getty

A passenger jet with almost 400 people on board had to dump thousands of litres of fuel and divert to Shannon Airport after the crew received a cargo hold fire indication.

Delta flight DL-73 was travelling from Amsterdam to Atlanta in the US when the crew declared an emergency over Co Leitrim.

At around 2.10pm the crew issued a Mayday distress call and advised air-traffic controllers at Shannon that they had an alarm in the cockpit indicating a possible fire in a rear cargo hold.

The Boeing 747-400 was cleared to commence its descent towards Shannon Airport where an emergency plan was being put in place.


The crew also advised controllers that they wished to dump fuel and confirmed that they had activated the fire extinguishing system in the cargo hold.

Airport crash crews were alerted while units of the fire brigade from both Shannon Town and Ennis were mobilised along with ambulances from Ennis and Limerick City.

The RNLI lifeboat station at Kilrush, Co Clare, was also requested to remain on standby until the flight had landed safely.

Airport and local authority emergency vehicles were deployed to taxiways adjacent to the main runway ready to pursue and surround aircraft once it landed.

The flight landed safely at 2.48pm and came to a stop on the runway. Fire crews quickly surrounded the plane and once the aircraft’s four engines had been shut down crews used thermal imaging cameras to check for hotspots on the aircraft’s fuselage.

When no evidence of fire was found, the plane was towed to the terminal building where fire crews with breathing apparatus were able to board the jet and undertake a closer inspection.

Shortly before 4pm, it was confirmed there was no evidence of a fire on board and emergency services were stood down.

It is understood that there were several dogs belonging to passengers in the cargo hold at the time however their fate was not known.

A spokeswoman for Delta said: "The flight crew of Delta flight 73 from Amsterdam to Atlanta elected to divert to Shannon, Ireland, after receiving an indication light on the cargo hold. The flight landed without incident. The safety of Delta customers and crew members is always our top priority."

The passengers will be accommodated in hotels in Clare and Limerick overnight.

The jet will continue its journey on Saturday at 5pm as flight 9856.

Last Monday, an Aeroméxico flight travelling from Mexico City to Paris diverted to Shannon after the crew received a fire indication in the cargo hold.

It is believed a consignment of mangoes may have created enough heat to activate the sensors.

In 2014, there were three incidents where flights diverted to Shannon because of fire scares on board.

In each case it was heat from organic materials in the cargo holds that activated onboard fire alarms while the aircraft involved in each case was a Boeing 747.

In an incident last December, the crew of an Air France Boeing 747 issued a Mayday call after a consignment of vegetables activated the jets fire alarm and sprinkler systems.