The first A350 of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, flew from Toulouse, France to Hamburg, Germany, to receive a transitional cabin. The aircraft will be used for transportation by German officials, hopefully putting an end to the strike of mishaps involving the country’s governmental planes.
The aircraft, registered D-AGAF, is the first of three ACJ350 XWB planes ordered by Germany. It is the world’s first-ever head-of-state Airbus A350, and will replace the two Luftwaffe A340s that currently compose the backbone of the German governmental fleet.
In March, the aircraft received its unique livery. Airbus also fitted the A350 with special avionics, such as a Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-Measure system (LAIRCM) to protect the planes from incoming missiles. Those requirements were priced at €229 million.
As it is soon to enter service, the aircraft will initially be fitted with a transitional cabin for the transport of representatives of the Federal Government. Its final VIP cabin will only been installed once its two sister aircraft enter service, by 2022. As for D-AGAF, which will be known as 10+03 using the Luftwaffe registration code, it will be delivered at the end of July 2020.
The conversion of the cabin will now be carried out by Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg facilities. “The transitional cabin will be tailored precisely to the customer’s specific requirements, featuring an office area and spacious conference area, adjoined by a multifunctional lounge area,” explained the MRO provider. In particular, “it will be equipped with modern, comfortable seats, a generous number of washrooms and a kitchen designed to cater for up to 150 people.”
The order was placed in May 2019, after years of technical mishaps affecting the aging planes of the governmental fleet. Negotiations for the acquisition of new planes officially started after Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to give up on attending the opening of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, in November 2018. The official plane that was supposed to take her to Argentina, the A340 VIP “Konrad Adenauer”, was forced to an emergency landing in Cologne after an electronic distribution box caused several systems, including the communications, to shut down. The Chancellor eventually took a commercial flight from Madrid to Argentina.