The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has determined that low-fare airline Ryanair did not violate safety standards last July when three of its flights ran short of fuel on the same day near Valencia in eastern Spain. The aircraft were diverted to Valencia due to thunderstorms in the Madrid area and all three flights landed safely. The IAA report on September 20 concluded that all three aircraft arrived in Madrid with more than the required minimum amount of fuel and that the flight crews made the diversion decision early enough in the approach process.
The report showed that in one instance Ryanair Flight 2054’s crew briefed to hold east of Madrid to be closer to Valencia should a diversion become necessary. The flight took a lightning strike during the approach to Madrid and executed a missed approach. Madrid ATC sent the flight west, which added another 50 nm of low-altitude flying around the weather before the aircraft headed to Valencia. The captain said that upon arrival, the Valencia controller seemed overwhelmed by all the other diversion traffic.
It was only when the Valencia controller attempted to put Ryanair 2054 into a holding pattern that the captain declared an emergency due to the aircraft’s low fuel state. The Valencia controller immediately cleared the flight to the airport, but turned the aircraft in while it was still too high, causing additional vectoring before the aircraft eventually made a safe arrival.