Drama over the Donegal skies as US jet forced to turn

There was great excitement over the Donegal skies on Monday as plane watching enthusiasts followed the weird journey of a United Airlines flight from Northern Ireland to New York.

Observers in the Rosses area in particular were tracking the events and posting them on Facebook.

The Belfast to Newark flight altered its route following take off after 11am.

The flight was scheduled to arrive in Newark Airport just before 2pm local time.

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Facebook was full of observations as it was tracked over the county.

One sky watcher commented: “What is the problem with Flight UA76 from Belfast today? Fight makes u-turn above us about 11.37 am today".

Another observed: “A prayer needed for those creatures aboard Flight UA66 from Belfast to Newark which got into difficulty above us about 11.35 this morning. Drama is continuing.”

It emerged the flight had to make an emergency diversion to Shannon Airport.

A spokeswoman for Shannon Airport said flight UA-76 to Newark had declared an emergency but landed safely just before 2.30pm.

Passengers on the plane were told there was an issue with the Boeing 757's landing gear.

There were concerns that the front wheels could not be locked to take the impact of a landing.

It is understood the pilots circled around the west coast of Ireland for about two hours burning off fuel before making their approach into Shannon.

The airport's emergency crews including firefighters were on the runway for the landing.

A spokesman for United Airlines said: "Our team at Shannon Airport is providing assistance to customers of flight UA76 (Belfast-New York/Newark) today, which diverted to Shannon Airport, Ireland because of a mechanical issue.
"The aircraft landed safely at 2.27 p.m. (local time). We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience caused."

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