Ryanair flight drops in at wrong airport

Who says the Irish aren't stoopid? A Ryanair (Irish) airliner flying from Liverpool to the City of Derry in Northern Ireland ended up landing at a British Army airfield by mistake -

Times March 30, 2006

The pilot of Ryanair flight 9884 from Liverpool to City of Derry faces an inquiry after landing the Airbus A320 jet at Ballykelly Camp, an army airfield five miles short of his destination (PA)

Ryanair flight drops in at wrong airport
By David Sharrock

Passenger jet lands at old army base after pilot takes a wrong turn

IT WAS Ryanair that pioneered the art of flying passengers to sometimes far-flung airfields and telling them that they had arrived in one of Europe’s loveliest cities.

So it should have come as no surprise yesterday to travellers on board Flight 9884 from Liverpool to City of Derry when they landed not in the Maiden City but Ballykelly Camp instead — an army airfield five miles away.

Ryanair passengers are also accustomed to not having an air-bridge to get them inside the terminal, but in this case they didn’t even have any steps to get them off the jet. Luckily, the flight’s original destination was close enough for ground-staff to bring the steps by road to the army base.

The Civil Aviation Authority began an investigation last night into how the civilian Airbus carrying 39 passengers and six crew touched down at the virtually disused base, better known as Shackleton Barracks, five miles from City of Derry.

Ryanair blamed the pilot flying the Eirjet aircraft, a company contracted to fly the route on Ryanair’s behalf. “He mistakenly believed he was on a visual approach to City of Derry airport. The Eirjet pilot was cleared by air traffic control in City of Derry airport but he mistook the nearby Ballykelly Camp for City of Derry airport and landed,” a statement said.

“We have informed the authorities both in the UK and in the Republic of Ireland. Never in our 20-year history has an incident like this happened.”

One passenger, Johnny Borrow from Londonderry, said that he knew the flight was landing at the wrong airport. “I tried to tell the crew but it was too late because the descent was almost over. It was hilarious. Soldiers started running towards the aircraft waving at us and laughing.

“We had to stay on the plane because the staircase to use to disembark was in City of Derry airport five miles away and we had to wait for it to arrive.

“The Ballykelly camp was originally named Shackleton camp after a well known explorer who was famous for never getting lost, but our pilot certainly got lost,” he said. Brian Mather, an Australian who lives in Sligo, said that the soldiers treated the passengers very well. “They could see the funny side of it. As we approached to land, the plane banked a couple of times and landed normally, except that we were at the wrong airport.

Some of the soldiers came on board and laughingly welcomed us to their international airport. There was no panic among the passengers but I think the cockpit crew might be panicking a bit,” he said.

As a result of the incident, the outward bound flight to Liverpool Airport was cancelled. Jodie Dowle, who was due to have travelled to Liverpool last night, said that she was at first terrified.

“The sign inside the airport stated that the flight was indefinitely delayed. That caused a great deal of worry for people waiting to pick up passengers. Then the sign was changed to read, ‘Passengers Arriving By Surface’. After that, everyone burst out laughing,” she said.


A Boeing 747 arriving at Heathrow from Brisbane in 1989 with 255 passengers almost landed on the A4 west of London after Glen Stewart, the pilot, mistook it for the runway. Disaster was averted at the last minute. Stewart was found guilty of criminal negligence

Sir Elton John’s private jet landed at Lamezia in Italy, 200 miles from its intended destination of Palermo, Sicily

An aircraft carrying 180 Hurricane Katrina evacuees landed in Charleston, West Virginia, instead of Charleston, South Carolina

A flight from Jakarta to Padang, West Sumatra, landed at Tabing Airport, in 2005 after disruption of the navigation system, possibly caused by a mobile phone

Pilots were probably drunk....what? They're Irish!!

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