Donaghadee Lifeboat

Lifeboats launch for air emergency

BANGOR, Donaghadee and Larne lifeboats were launched on Tuesday night as part of a major emergency services operation which also involved police, fire and ambulance crews.

A British Airways flight from Belfast City Airport to Heathrow, with 108 passengers aboard, was diverted to Belfast International Airport shortly after take-off after the pilot declared an emergency. One passenger ‘heard a bang’ as the plane took off.

A spokesman for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the charity which saves lives at sea, said: “The Lifeboat volunteers were on the water within 10 minutes of receiving a request from the Coastguard and proceeded to positions which are part of a practiced air emergency plan. If an aircraft is forced to ditch at sea lives will be saved if the crews can reach the scene swiftly. Thankfully our services were not required and the Lifeboats returned to station within the hour.”

Alan Whiteside, operations director at Belfast International Airport, said: “Everything went smoothly, our own police and fire service on site here responded, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service all attended as a routine.But nobody was required to take any other action – the aircraft landed safely thankfully.”