The world’s first non-commercial Airbus A350 is now ready to enter service with the German Luftwaffe. The aircraft was transferred from Hamburg to Cologne earlier today, marking the end of its military testing program.
Countries around the world maintain aircraft for the transport of high profile government representatives. Of course, everybody has heard of Air Force One, the callsign added to the US president’s Boeing 747 while he is onboard. More recently, we’ve seen India take delivery of a modified Boeing 777 for VIP transport, while earlier this summer, Britain revealed a new paint scheme for its flagship military A330.
The first governmental Airbus A350 was officially handed over to the German Government on August 20th. The country’s Minister of Defence, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, took delivery of the aircraft from Lufthansa Technik. However, since then, the aircraft had remained in Hamburg undergoing military certification and testing. Earlier today, the aircraft left Hamburg to fly to its new Cologne home.
After the formal handover to @AKK in August, the world's first government @Airbus A350 remained in HAM for military certification and testing. Today, it left our premises to soon enter service with @Team_Luftwaffe. Always happy landings, 10+03! #keepyouflying @BaainBw pic.twitter.com/3dzjPJxi8g
— Lufthansa Technik (@LHTechnik) October 9, 2020
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According to the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, Lieutenant Colonel Jens B. flew the aircraft to Cologne this morning. He is one of the Bundeswehr’s most experienced pilots. He commented,
“The A350 is the best aircraft I’ve ever flown. It flies faster, higher, further and is the most modern and most economical aircraft in the flight readiness fleet.”
A temporary cabin
The German government is expecting to take three of these VIP transport A350s. This first aircraft is planned to begin flying government ministers worldwide from the end of the year. To get the aircraft into service as soon as possible, it is currently only fitted with a temporary cabin.
This first aircraft, registered as 10+03, can seat 132 passengers. For comparison, the Lufthansa Airbus A350-900 carries up to 319 passengers in a three-class configuration. At the rear of the Luftwaffe’s aircraft are 76 premium economy passenger seats. The middle of the aircraft seats 30 in business class seating, while the front of the aircraft is reserved for VIPs such as Angela Merkel herself. Once the remaining two aircraft have been delivered, 10+03 will be refitted into its final configuration.
Airbus A340 replacement
The new Airbus A350s being delivered to the Bundeswehr are intended to replace the armed forces aging Airbus A340s. Two A340 aircraft are currently in service flying high-ranking German officials such as Merkel worldwide for official business. These aircraft have been used for ‘flight readiness’ for the past 20 years since 2000. They replaced the Airbus A310.
However, time is catching up with the Airbus A340. Firstly, it’s four engines are not nearly as fuel-efficient as the two engines of the Airbus A350. However, the A340s have also proved somewhat unreliable of late. Merkel has been forced to take long-haul Iberia flights due to faults with her aircraft.
What do you make of the German government’s new aircraft? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!