Plane with Dutch royal couple on board makes emergency landing

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The heir to the Dutch throne, Prince Willem-Alexander of Orange, has been forced to make an emergency landing in New Zealand after passengers smelt smoke on board a chartered plane soon after takeoff.

The private Jetstream 32 carrying Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Máxima departed for Wellington from Nelson, and was forced to make an emergency landing at Nelson Airport at around half past four this afternoon, minutes after takeoff.

Nelson Airport General Manager Kay McNabb says the plane was not in the air long when the crew detected what they thought was smoke in the cockpit, forcing the aircraft to circle the airport and land.

She says that the rescue fire crews were on standby as the royal couple's airplane touched down.

She says the plane landed without incident, all 17 people on board were unhurt. The royal couples were put on a commercial flight to Wellington at five o'clock.

The emergency landing comes after they made headlines earlier this week, with an apparent snub as he and Princess Máxima started an official visit to New Zealand on Tuesday.

The royal couple are visiting New Zealand from October 31 to November 4. Their stay will include visiting Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington and Auckland. They are due to fly out for Singapore Saturday afternoon.