A United Airlines flight that was traveling from Rome to Chicago has been diverted to Ireland. The Airline claimed the plane was diverted due to “Potential security concerns”. United flight 971, a Boeing 767-300 landed in Shannon, Ireland Monday with Irish police on the scene interviewing passengers, as well as the flight crew.
A source familiar with the matter said a written bomb threat was found onboard the aircraft, which was carrying 107 passengers, eight flight attendants and three pilots.
The Irish Times reports that the threatening message was scribbled on a surface inside one of the plane’s bathrooms.
The aircraft will be swept for explosives and passengers will be subject to additional security screenings. United expects passengers will need to stay the night in Ireland and return to Chicago on Monday as police continue their investigation.
Via Irish Times:
“A transatlantic flight was diverted to Shannon Airport on Monday after a message was discovered in a toilet claiming there was a bomb on board.
United Airlines flight UA-971 was travelling from Rome’s Fiumicino airport to Chicago at the time. There were 214 passengers a crew on board.
The crew declared a May Day at around 12.45pm and informed air traffic controllers that they wished to divert to Shannon Airport.
The Boeing 767-300 jet turned around about 200 kilometres west of Co Clare and then flew a pattern over the ocean to dump fuel to reduce its weight before commencing an approach to Shannon.
It is understood that the alarm was raised when a message was discovered scribbled on a surface in one of the jet’s toilets.
Investigating gardaí began the lengthy process of taking handwriting samples from each of the passengers in an effort to establish whether one of them had written the message. All the passengers’ hand baggage was also removed for security screening while luggage in the cargo hold was also expected to be examined.
Ahead of the landing, authorities at Shannon implemented emergency procedures which involved alerting the local authority fire service, HSE National Ambulance Service and An Garda Síochána.
A number of ambulances and garda patrols responded to the airport along with members of the armed Garda Regional Support Unit (RSU).
Four units of the fire brigade from Shannon Town were sent to the scene while additional units of the fire brigade from Ennis were mobilised to a dedicated holding point adjacent to the M18 at Dromoland in case there were needed.
The flight landed safely at 1.42pm and was met by airport rescue vehicles. The aircraft continued to a remote taxiway where it was then met by airport police and gardaí while fire crews also surrounded the jet.
About 40 minutes after landing passengers were disembarked normally using mobile steps. They were the escorted on foot a short distance to waiting buses and taken in groups to a screening area within the airport.
An airline spokesperson said: “United flight UA971 en route to Chicago from Rome, diverted to Shannon following a potential security concern. Additional security screenings will be performed on all customers and baggage, and we will work to get customers on their way to Chicago as quickly as possible.”
The airline later said passengers had been sent to local hotels for the night. The aircraft is scheduled to depart on Tuesday at 3pm.”
“We will work to get customers on their way to Chicago as quickly as possible,” the company said. CBS News
With tensions running high in Singapore where President Trump is trying to prevent nuclear war, there is no reason why matters like these should be taken with precautions.
The 207 passengers and 11 crew members disembarked from the Boeing 767-330 at Shannon Airport at 2:15 p.m. local time, according to Jim Molloy, a representative of Ireland’s police force.
The passengers of flight UA971 were in the process of being searched, he said in an emailed statement but gave no further details about the nature of the threat.
United said in a statement that the landing was due to “a potential security concern,” but declined to comment further.
“After assessing the situation, our crew made the decision to divert to the nearest available airport,” it said. “Additional security screenings will be performed on all customers and baggage.”
The airline said on Twitter that the flight was now canceled and would depart for Chicago on Tuesday.
The U.S. government was aware of the incident and seeking to establish whether there was any violent intent behind the threat, a U.S. government source familiar with the investigation told Reuters.
A second U.S. government source said similar incidents involving threatening notes found on airplanes happen about once a week.
The handwriting on the note was being analyzed to see if it matched with any other such notes, which are periodically found on aircraft, one of the sources said. It was not clear whether the note was posted in the bathroom prior to takeoff or during the flight.
Police were also taking handwriting samples from the passengers, the Irish Times reported. The message was found in the plane toilet, it said, without citing sources.
The United jet completed its descent after jettisoning some of the fuel loaded for its transatlantic crossing, according to recordings on air traffic control site LiveATC.net. Reuters