Engine Problems on U.S. Troop Carriers at Shannon Highlight Risks of Military Traffic to Civilians

Engine problems experienced by two separate Omni Air International troop carriers as they departed from Shannon on 6th and 7th February remind us once again of the grave dangers associated with transporting munitions and other military goods through a civilian airport like Shannon.

This is not the first time such incidents have occurred. The DC-10s used by Omni Air International are old and clearly not entirely reliable. Nonetheless the US Department of Defence considers them safe enough for their rank and file soldiers, while most of the higher ranking officers travel in executive jets and newer military aircraft. If one of these military contracted DC-10's crashed on take-off with a full load of fuel and thousands of rounds of ammunition on board, the consequences would be catastrophic. The airport fire brigade would be hard pressed to contain the damage to people and property as the ammunition started to cook off or explode.

Shannonwatch have confirmed that there are over 1200 requests a year from civilian aircraft to carry munitions through Ireland, and the majority of these are Omni Air troop carriers landing and taking off from Shannon. There are also aircraft licensed to carry depleted uranium and explosives through Shannon for the US military, as was discovered after an incident where flames were seen trailing from a Murray Air aircraft that landed at Shannon in April 2008.

“Shannon airport is a civilian airport with no safety protection shields or blast wall to protect occupants of the terminal building from an aircraft explosion. There are large areas of plate glass facing on to the aircraft parking areas. Any significant explosion in an aircraft at the airport would send most of this glass flying in into the passenger and worker areas of the terminal building” said a Shannonwatch spokesperson.

This is just one more reason why the US military transits at Shannon should be discontinued. Their continued use of the airport contributes to illegal wars of occupation, war crimes, and human rights abuse. These recent events show that it also puts the safety of the people of Shannon and surrounding areas at risk.

The planes whose engines failed had tail numbers N621AX and N531AX. Both are regular visitors to Shannon. For details of the two incidents see http://avherald.com/h?article=437660c3&opt=0 and http://avherald.com/h?article=43774afe&opt=0.

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