'No wheels' jet makes emergency landing

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A passenger jet made an emergency landing today on a protective layer of foam at Germany's Stuttgart airport after having problems with its landing gear.

One passenger was lightly injured and a stewardess was taken to a hospital for observation, said Contact Air, which operated the flight. It said that all the passengers were able to leave the plan via its emergency slides.

The plane was flying in from Berlin's Tegel airport with 73 passengers and five crew members on board, airline manager Manfred Gaertner said.

The airline said despite several attempts, the crew had been unable to get the plane's landing gear to deploy fully. The jet landed on the foam with the landing gear only partly extended.

Among those on board the Fokker 100 was Franz Muentefering, the chairman of one of Germany's governing parties, the center-left Social Democrats.

"It was a very serious situation," Muentefering said in a statement. "We circled for a long time, attempted the approach and then had to make an emergency landing."

"All remained uninjured," Muentefering said, thanking the plane's captain for a "masterly performance."

Contact Air is a regional partner of Germany's biggest airline, Lufthansa, and operated the flight under a Lufthansa code, LH288.

The company said the plane was built in November 1995 and underwent a full inspection, or C check, on 5 August. The 60-year-old captain had more than 17,000 flying hours under his belt, it added.

The airport's runway was closed following the landing.

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