German Air Force to Acquire Airbus A350s
Following recent embarrassments caused by technical faults on their ageing Airbus A340 transport aircraft, the German government has elected to purchase three new aircraft for its air force.
Ursula von der Leyen, the German Defense Secretary, is already in the process of purchasing three new Airbus A350s from the manufacturer, which will see the first example delivered to the German Air Force later this year and enter service in 2020. The next two will arrive from 2021 and 2023.
The aircraft will be handed over to the German Air Force with a generic cabin configuration, however will later receive a complete retrofit to meet their interior requirements which include conference rooms, bedrooms, larger bathrooms with showers, advanced communications and self-defense systems. The retrofit is expected to add $115 – 170 million to the aircraft cost.
With two ex-Lufthansa Airbus A340-300s nearing 20 years old serving as the primary government transport aircraft, the move to upgrade comes in perfectly, especially given the recent circumstances that circulated global media.
On her way to the G20 Summit, German chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to make an emergency landing following an electrical fault with the aircraft, which was registered 16+01, causing a radio failure. Subsequently, she arrived a day late and had to be flown around on commercial flights.
Including both A340-300s, here are the other incidents that have occurred over the past year:
- June 2018 – Losing hydraulic fluid before departing Berlin with German Federal President Frank Walter Steinmeir.
- October 2018 – Aircraft wiring damaged after rodents chewed at them in Denpasar.
- November 2018 – Aircraft stuck in Botswana after the APU failed to start.
- January 2019 – Repaired/replaced APU failed to start, causing three hour delay.
Once the deal is confirmed by Airbus, it will be the first time the A350 is operated by a government/air force. Although its understood the aircraft will be new, MSN 002, which is the A350-900 test aircraft with the carbon livery, was recently seen active and moving around, which also correlates with the fact that Airbus had it for sale.
Could this be part of the German Air Force deal?