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Plane from US forced to abort Geneva landing

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Plane from US forced to abort Geneva landing
Photo: Swiss International Air Lines
10:30 CET+01:00
A Swiss International Air Lines plane flying from New York to Geneva was forced on Thursday to abandon a landing at the Swiss city's airport at the last minute because of a problem with its autopilot landing system, the carrier said.

The Airbus A330-300 plane originating from John F. Kennedy International Airport continued on to Basel, where it landed without incident, the 20 Minutes newspaper said.

The plane, carrying 210 passengers, had descended to an altitude of 400 metres on its flight path to the Geneva airport when the pilot decided to abort the landing because of visibility problems.

The incident occurred shortly before 9am when takeoffs and landings were proceeding normally at the Cointrin airport despite a light autumn fog, 20 Minutes said.

“The plane was rerouted because of a technical irregularity with the autopilot landing system,” the airline's press service told the newspaper.

“The plane had to therefore proceed with a manual landing, which, however, requires good visibility,” the airline said.

“This was not the case either in Geneva nor in Zurich, so the plane was rerouted to Basel.”

 The company said such incidents were not very frequent.

A Geneva airport spokesman said aborted landings at Cointrin because of poor visibility were rare, 20 Minutes said.

Passengers on the plane were transferred to their final destinations by train or bus, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Tribune de Genève reported on another unscheduled landing by a Swiss plane en route to Zurich from Tokyo this week.

The pilot of the Airbus plane carrying 207 passengers and 13 crew, Jean-Daniel Gerhard, made an emergency landing in Yekaterinburg, Russia on Wednesday to allow a Japanese passenger to be treated for a medical emergency.

The man, in his 70s, was suffering from a life-threatening intestinal blockage and began experiencing serious pain while the plane was over remote territory between Siberia and China, Gerhard told the newspaper.

Two doctors on board the plane, including one from Geneva's University Hospital (HUG), treated the patient but reached the conclusion he urgently needed an operation, the pilot said.

Gerhard said he issued a Mayday call for help and was directed to the Russian airport, a major detour, after discovering other airports were too small for the plane to land or were otherwise not equipped to accept it.

The pilot is credited with saving the life of the passenger, who was able to get treatment in Yekaterinburg, where an ambulance was waiting for the plane.

The aircraft was able to continue on to Zurich where it arrived more than 16 hours after taking off from Japan, the Tribune de Genève said.

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