ROME – ROME (AP) — An Italian air force jet flying Premier Silvio Berlusconi to a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels returned to Italy for a precautionary emergency landing Thursday because of a problem with the cockpit windshield.
"There was just a strong buckling of the glass. We had to reduce speed and return to Milan," Berlusconi told reporters after eventually arriving in Brussels. "That's all it was."
The Italian news agency ANSA reported the crew noticed a bubble in the windshield on the copilot's side of the cockpit window of the Airbus A319, and that there was some concern the window might crack.
Earlier, Berlusconi's spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, told The Associated Press by telephone that the jet was in the skies over Zurich when the problem was noticed and that the pilots decided to go back to Italy, landing safely at Milan's Linate airport.
Bonaiuti did not give details about the windshield problem.
The plane had taken off earlier from Rome's Ciampino airport.
Bonaiuti said that after the plane landed at Linate, the premier and his aides boarded another aircraft for Brussels.
Overshadowing the Brussels meeting was clash of reactions across the continent provoked by France's crackdown on Gypsies.
Berlusconi's conservative government has rallied to the side of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's expulsion of Roma, while the European Union's justice commissioner is sticking to a threat to challenge France in court over the policy.