A PLANE carrying Queen Sofía from Guatemala to Spain suffered a breakdown during a 'technical' stop in the Dominican Republic – the fourth mechanical failure of an aircraft carrying a Spanish statesperson in as many months.
One of the Armed Forces' two Airbus broke down twice with Prince Felipe on board, and a Falcon carrying president Mariano Rajoy to the Republic of Ireland on March 7 also had a mechanical fault.
This time round, the Airbus 310 – a different craft to the one carrying the Prince – was just about to take off from the airport of Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, when the pilot detected a problem with the reverse system in one of the engines.
He had to abort take-off and the plane was grounded for two hours while the fault was fixed.
The reverse mechanism is a system which assists in braking during landing, but the landing strip in Torrejón (Madrid) is very long, meaning if the same happened again prior to touching down, the pilot would have no problem in stopping the craft long before the end of the runway.
Speaking to reporters, the pilot said the breakdowns which have hit the headlines are nothing to do with the age of the aircraft – even though they were purchased by the ministry of defence second-hand, they still had, and have, many years of useful life in front of them.
He said the same procedure would have been followed for a commercial flight, since 'safety is not negotiable'.
But the pilot was 'very concerned' about the likelihood of the latest incident causing public alarm because of its having affected a member of Royalty.
Such technical faults as those experienced by Queen Sofía, Prince Felipe and Mariano Rajoy are 'nothing new' in the world of civil aviation.
The Prince of Asturias was held up at Santo Domingo airport whilst en route to Hondurás, and in Spain before taking off for Brazil, forcing him to postpone an official engagement, on two occasions earlier this year and affecting the same Airbus 310.
Rajoy's plane to Dublin was a Falcon, a military craft but a much smaller one than the Airbus.