A Delta Airlines flight heading to Detroit from Rome declared an emergency as it entered UK airspace at around 1245 hours this afternoon.
The track of the Boeing 767-332(ER) shows that it diverted its course from a heading of east-to-west to a heading of north-to-south.
The aircraft changed its transponder code to ‘7700’ before changing direction.
Squawking 7700 means that the pilot has manually changed his/her transponder code from the one previously assigned for normal operations to the emergency number, 7700.
This will cause flashing on the ground controller’s radar screen to alert him/her of a major problem.
The aircrafts track as of 13:12 hours
It is the equivalent of an “SOS” radio transmission.
It is something that immediately alerts all air traffic controllers on their radar screen that this aircraft has declared an emergency and needs immediate assistance.
It also means that other aircraft in the vicinity will also be aware of the fact that the aircraft has declared an emergency.
An aircraft that squawks 7700 will be given priority over all other aircraft in the vicinity and will also be given immediate clearance to land at the nearest airport, best-suited to deal with the emergency.
The aircraft appears to have been diverted to Heathrow Airport after declaring an emergency
A spokesperson for Delta Airlines told Emergency Services News:
“Delta flight 237 from Rome, Italy to Detroit diverted to London-Heathrow due to an onboard medical event.
“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience this may have caused”.
There were 217 passengers on board the aircraft at the time.