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Carrasco International Airport (Emergency Landing)

Volume 129: debated on Tuesday 15 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the emergency landing of a Hercules C-130 at Carrasco international airport and the subsequent discussions and decision about where it would be allowed to fly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which a Hercules aircraft carrying materials for Exercise Fire Focus in the Falklands was forced to land in Montevideo, Uruguay, on 9 March; when he expects the aircraft to resume its journey; and if he will make a statement on his discussions with the Government of Uruguay.

On 8 March a Hercules C-130 was on a routine flight from Ascension Island to the Falklands. It was only 85 nautical miles north of Mount Pleasant airport (MPA) when the latest report of rapidly changing weather conditions at MPA indicated a very powerful cross-wind, well beyond the aircraft's limit for landing. At this stage the aircraft had insufficient fuel to return to Ascension Island or to rendezvous with a tanker aircraft from Ascension, whilst tankers at MPA were unable to take off because of the wind. An emergency diversion to the South American mainland was therefore essential and landing clearance was given by Carrasco (Montevideo's international airport) where the aircraft landed early on 9 March (British time). It landed on three engines because of a propellor malfunction, which was rectified by the crew in situ. Clearance for the aircraft to depart was sought and given by the Uruguayan authorities on 9 March. The aircraft left Carrasco the following day, after the crew had rested and the aircraft had been refuelled. At Uruguayan request the aircraft returned to Ascension Island.We are most grateful to the Uruguayan authorities for their humanitarian assistance in this matter.