'A mechanical issue'

Belfast to Newark flight diverted over Donegal before emergency landing

Sue Doherty

Reporter:

Sue Doherty

Belfast to Newark flight diverted over Donegal before emergency landing

Gerald McHugh's photo of the United Airlines Boeing 757 over Portnoo

A Donegal man took this rare photo of a plane which had to be diverted on a transatlantic flight yesterday.

United Airlines flight UA76 left Belfast International Airport shortly after 11am bound for Newark, New Jersey.

When the landing gear was being retracted, passengers heard a "really loud grinding noise", journalist Lesley-Anne McKeown, who was on board, told the BBC.

It was announced soon after that the Boeing 757, with 121 passengers and 9 crew, was being diverted to Shannon Airport.

The new route took the plane over Portnoo where avid photographer Gerald McHugh caught sight of it in the bright autumn sky.

He told the Democrat, "Planes do not fly over our area in this direction that is what caught my attention".

The captain had to circle up and down Ireland's west coast dumping excess fuel before the flight could land.

After two hours, the plane touched down safely, to applause and cheers from relieved passengers, at Shannon.

A spokesperson for United Airlines said passengers were being accommodated at hotels in Shannon and alternative flights arranged for them.