Merkel’s plane makes emergency stop, tech issues reported
BERLIN (AP) — A plane carrying German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the Group of 20 meeting in Argentina was forced to make an unscheduled landing Thursday night in western Germany. A German military blog reported it was due to technical problem with its radio.
The government A340-300 VIP Airbus, which was en route to Buenos Aires, turned around over the Netherlands about an hour into the flight, the German news agency dpa reported. The aircraft landed safely in Cologne about 9 p.m. (2000 GMT), with journalists on board reporting no injuries.
Several firefighting vehicles were on stand-by as Merkel’s plane landed because it had more fuel on board than is customary during landing, dpa reported.
A replacement German air force plane was being prepared to carry Merkel and her entourage to the G-20 meeting, which starts Friday in the Argentine capital. The Cologne-Bonn airport has a military base called Cologne-Wahn that is adjacent to the civilian airport.
According to German military blog Augengeradeaus.net, the aircraft was transmitting a 7600 transponder code, indicating a radio failure.
German government planes, operated by the country’s air force, have been plagued by technical problems in recent years. In 2015, the same aircraft was grounded due to a technical problem shortly before Merkel was to fly to New Delhi, forcing her to switch to a distinctly less luxurious A310 troop carrier.
Merkel was told of the need to turn around Thursday night while she was holding a background briefing for journalists accompanying her to Buenos Aires.
The G-20 meeting comes amid growing economic uncertainty and global displeasure with U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policies.