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Thu, Mar 30, 2006

Ryanair Flight Lands At Army Base By Mistake

Whoops!

A passenger jet flying for Ryanair mistakenly landed at Ballykelly Army airstrip Wednesday, instead of at its intended destination of City of Derry Airport, six miles away.

The Liverpool-to-Londonderry flight, operated by Eirjet on behalf of the Irish LCC, landed at the wrong airport due to an "error by the Eirjet pilot who mistakenly believed he was on a visual approach to City of Derry airport," according to a Ryanair statement.

Army officers and passengers aboard the Eirjet A320 alike were, frankly, dumbfounded by the mistake.

"The pilot apologized and said, 'We may have arrived at the wrong airport,'" said one passenger. "Everyone started laughing and thought it was a joke, then I saw for myself when I looked out and saw Army officers everywhere."

"It was just unbelievable, I think the Army officers were shocked themselves (as) they were taking photographs," the passenger added. "It was surreal."

Another passenger told the BBC passengers had to wait on the airplane as deboarding stairs were brought from the airport -- although he had been looking forward to another option.

"Unfortunately they didn't let us go down the slide," he said. (about 33 participants in this weekend's A380 evacuation drill may wish to educate the lad about the perils of those slides.)

In its statement, Ryanair said it has notified aviation authorities in the UK and Ireland of the incident. The passengers were eventually shuttled back to the proper airport, while their aircraft remained on the ground at Ballykelly.

"We have also asked Eirjet, the operator of the aircraft to carry out a full investigation into this matter, as in over seven years of Ryanair flights into City of Derry airport, and over 20 years of Ryanair-operated flights, such a mistake has never occurred before," the airline (pointedly?) added.

In a statement of its own, Eirjet promised it would also carry out a full investigation.

"Eirjet wish to stress that passenger safety was not compromised and the incident involved the aircraft landing at a runway which is exactly in line with the main runway at City of Derry Airport," it said.

FMI: www.ryanair.com, www.eirjet.com

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