Gatwick to Kingston flight forced to burn fuel due to medical emergency
A BRITISH Airways aeroplane dropped from an altitude of 30,000 feet to 8,000 feet while flying over Achill Island on Friday afternoon.
The transatlantic flight from London Gatwick to Kingston, Jamaica was forced to turn back following a medical emergency while flying off the west coast of Ireland at approximately 3.25pm.
The Boeing 777 aircraft was flying at approximately 30,000 feet at the time but as it approached Achill it dropped to an altitude of 8,000 feet. The airline circled over Achill for approximately 30 minutes, completing three loops until it continued on its journey back to Gatwick Airport.
The low altitude meant that the noise of the jet engines were clearly heard and the undercarriage of the plan was clearly visible from the ground.
“You could clearly hear the noise from the engines and seeing a plane of its size flying at such a low altitude is not something you see over Achill. It was at a height you would see around Dublin Airport if it was approaching to land,” said one local resident. “I thought it was a military plane when I first heard it but you could clearly see the under carriage and it was a commercial airline. It continued to fly around for about half an hour before flying off.”
As it made its way back to Gatwick, the airline continued to fly at approximately 10,000 feet and at half the speed it would normally fly at. As it flew over south Wales, the plane again circled for over 30 minutes before continuing to Gatwick where it eventually landed shortly after 6pm.
Footage of the plane flying low over Wales was captured by a number of people and posted on social media leading to speculation of what may have occurred.
A spokesperson for the Irish Aviation Authority confirmed that a medical emergency occurred while en-route to Jamaica resulting in it turning back.
“Initially they had planned to dump fuel at a higher level of 27,000ft and divert to an Irish airport. However for technical reasons they decided not to dump fuel and, as a result, they descended to a lower level to help burn off fuel and make their way back to the UK,” the spokesperson stated.
Comedian Al Murray was among the passengers on the flight to Jamaica and tweeted about the incident on his Twitter account.
“What a day of travel. To start in Gatwick and end in Gatwick. This is fun/dispiriting” before later adding, “I sincerely hope that the lady for whom we diverted from Kingston, Jamaica and dumped all that fuel off Ireland - how to put this ?? - a) really actually was unwell b) is better now.”