Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Gerhard Heiming

Soon, members of the Federal Government, parliamentarians and members of the German Armed Forces will be able to go on long-distance journeys with the A350-900, one of the most modern passenger aircraft. The future flagship of the Federal Ministry of Defence’s (BMVg) Special Air Mission Wing in Hamburg was handed over in the presence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, by Lufthansa Technik AG on 20th August 2020. This is the first time that an A350 will be used as a government aircraft and the first non-commercial use of this aircraft type.

In April 2019, three A350-900s, with a contract value of €1.2bn, had been ordered. Since May 2020, Lufthansa Technik has been equipping the first aircraft to meet the requirements of the BMVg. €288m will be spent on the aircraft cabin and other interior fittings while another €229m are earmarked for the integration of the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system. This includes spare parts and equipment for maintenance and repair. The participating companies will also provide initial training for personnel.

First A350

Lufthansa Technik has equipped the A350 operated by the German Armed Forces under the designation 10+03 with a provisional (transitional) cabin for political-parliamentary flight operations. The cabin has office and conference areas, followed by a multifunctional lounge area with the remaining space available for delegations flying on the aircraft. After the sister aircraft, 10+01 and 10+02, which are currently under construction, will receive a fully-fledged government cabin from Lufthansa Technik next year, the transition cabin in 10+03 will also be replaced. All three aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in the course of 2022 and will then replace the existing A340-300s.

After being taken over by the Bundeswehr, the 10+03 will go into the certification process. After various test flights over the next few weeks, military certification will be granted. From the end of 2020, the first A350 will be available for government flights.

In addition to VIP transport, the aircraft will also be used for strategic air transport of wounded people, as well as for personnel and material transport during humanitarian missions and to support Bundeswehr operations. The necessary equipment will also be provided.

Reliability

After several breakdowns during flights by members of the German Federal Government to important events in 2018, the shortage of equipment for the BMVg’s Special Air Mission Wing was criticised and the need for new aircraft was formulated. As early as 11th April 2019, the Defence and the Budget Committees of the German Bundestag took note of the corresponding 25-Mio-Euro proposal, so that the contract with Lufthansa Technik could be concluded immediately afterwards. The project is financed from Section 60 of the German federal budget, which provides funds for interdepartmental tasks.

A350-900s have been in production since 2015. With a maximum take-off weight of 275 tonnes, the aircraft can carry 138,000 litres of fuel and fly non-stop for up to 15,000 km. The two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofan engines are regarded as economical and low-noise. The standard seating capacity for commercial air traffic is 325 seats