An aircraft operating a Ryanair flight landed today by mistake at a virtually-disused army airfield in Northern Ireland.

Ryanair refuses to comment, but the Police Service of Northern Ireland says the aircraft landed at Ballykelly airfield, known locally as Shackleton Barracks, at 14:47 today instead of its intended destination of nearby City of Derry airport in Londonderry.

The exact flight is not known, but unconfirmed suggestions are that it had come from Liverpool in England, which is consistent with it being Ryanair flight 9884 due at Derry at 14:25.

Police at nearby Limavady say: "[Airfield staff] are trying to find steps to get the passengers off and then they are going to bus the passengers to Derry. Apparently it’s too heavy to take off again while it’s loaded so they are going to fly it out when the passengers are off.”

The police are unable to confirm the identity of the aircraft, although another unconfirmed report suggests it is an Airbus A320 of Irish carrier Eirjet operating on behalf of Ryanair, which has an all-Boeing 737 fleet.

Ballykelly is lightly used by UK Army Air Corps and Royal Air Force helicopters and as a sport airfield. A rail line crosses the air field (pictured below).

Ballykerry airfield W445
© Alan Newble Railway Photo Resource Site

Derry charts warn pilots against the risk of confusion between the two airfields. Derry has a 1,670m (5,480ft) runway (08/26), with precision approach path indicators (PAPI) on 26, and an ILS/DME. Ballykelly airfield details are not immediately available.


Source: Flight International