Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Airbus Made an Emergency Landing on the Way to the G-20

Nov 29, 2018

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A German Air Force Airbus A340 carrying Chancellor Angela Merkel made an emergency landing on Thursday in Cologne, after experiencing unspecified “electrical problems” on the way to Argentina. Merkel will miss the opening ceremony of the G-20 summit of the 20 most industrialized nations as a consequence.

According to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the captain decided to turn around one hour after takeoff from Berlin because “electrical systems had failed after technical problems.” The four-engined Airbus was met on the runway by fire department trucks. Neither Merkel nor any other occupants were reported to be injured. According to media reports, the plane had left Berlin at 7pm and landed at 9pm.

The chancellor will continue to Argentina on the German Air Force’s other A340 VIP transport. The A340 involved in the incident has the German military registration 16+01 and bears the name of Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of newly democratic Germany after World War II. Adenauer led then-West Germany from 1949 until 1963.

29 November 2018, North Rhine-Westphalia, Köln: Passengers are standing on the tarmac of Cologne Airport next to the Chancellor's Airbus "Konrad Adenauer". Chancellor Merkel had to interrupt her flight from Berlin to the G20 summit in Buenos Aires on Thursday evening due to a technical defect in the Chancellor's Airbus "Konrad Adenauer". The A340-300 aircraft with Merkel on board took off from Berlin at 19.00 hrs and landed in Cologne at 21.00 hrs. (Best possible image quality) Photo: Jörg Blank/dpa (Photo by Jörg Blank/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Passengers standing on the tarmac of Cologne Airport next to the Chancellor’s Airbus (Photo by Jörg Blank/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The plane used to fly for German carrier Lufthansa, with the registration D-AIGR and bearing the name of the city of Leipzig. It was taken off service in 2009 after 10 years of commercial flying and parked, before being bought by the air force in 2011 and adapted for VIP transport. The A340 was the first true long-range airplane produced by the European planemaker, and competed head to head with the Boeing 777, ultimately going out of production when the US-made Boeing proved to be more fuel-efficient.

Merkel is going to fly to Argentina aboard sister ship 16+02, another former Lufthansa bird, which was also built in 1999 and joined the air force in 2011.

Featured image of a German Air Force Airbus A340-300, taken in Berlin in 2017, by Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

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