Merkel plane forced to emergency landing after system shutdown

Airbus A340 16+01 landing in Leipzig
Thomas Liebenberg Creative Commons

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend the opening of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on November 30, 2018, after her plane was forced to an emergency landing in Cologne, Germany. A sabotage is not ruled out.

The A340 “Konrad Adenauer” (name of the first German chancellor after the Second World War) was above the Netherlands when several electrical systems shut down. Even the communications system was affected, forcing the flight crew to use a satellite phone to call for an emergency landing, according to Der Spiegel.

As Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) is currently under renovation, the plane had to use a shorter runway, while being overweight. The risk of brake fire prompted the airport to call on its fire department.

An investigation has been opened to determine the reason behind the failure. Sabotage is not excluded.

Another plane of the Luftwaffe should transport the delegation from Cologne to Madrid, Spain, where it will then take a commercial flight to Argentina, a governmental source told Der Spiegel. Angela Merkel should not arrive before the evening of November 30, 2018.

The German chancellor was expected to discuss the current standoff of Russian and Ukrainian forces in the sea of Azov with President Vladimir Putin. It is not yet known which meetings will have to be rescheduled.

A month ago, in October 2018, the A340 “Konrad Adenauer” was already grounded in Indonesia and left the German minister of finance Olaf Scholz stranded during the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting. Rodents had made their way onboard and managed to gnaw through some cables.

UPDATE 30/11/2018, 15:31:

The first investigation dismissed the hypothesis of sabotage, said a spokesperson of the Luftwaffe. The systems shutdown of this morning was in fact due to the malfunction of a faulty piece. “The part concerned was an electronic distribution box, which we have changed,” said Guido Henrich, commander of the German Air Force’s government fleet to reporters.

A tough month for European presidential planes

On November 18, 2018, a delegation of the Lithuanian government, including President Dalia Grybauskaitė, had to call off an official visit to Riga to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Latvia’s Independence. As they arrived at Vilnius International Airport (VNO) to board their plane, they were informed that the Alenia (a Leonardo and Lockheed Martin collaboration) C-27J military transport aircraft that was supposed to take them to the Latvian capital had a technical failure, and that the other two were unavailable at that time. The mishap forced the Lithuanian president to address Latvians through a Skype call at Vilnius airport.

On October 23, 2018, the French main presidential plane, an Airbus A330, registered F-RARF, had to undergo maintenance at its official MRO contractor, Sabena Technics, for a couple of days. AeroTime reached out to the presidential press service which did not want to clear out whether that maintenance was planned or not.

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