Germany’s First Airbus A350 Enters Government Service

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On Monday, Germany’s first governmental Airbus A350 entered regular use following testing and certification. The aircraft was initially delivered to Lufthansa Technik in May for the fitting of its VIP cabin. The aircraft was handed to the German government three months later in August.

Airbus A350, Bundeswehr, Luftwaffe
The German Air Force’s first Airbus A350 has entered regular use. Photo: Lufthansa Technik

Germany is currently in the process of replacing its aging Airbus A340 VIP transport aircraft. The aircraft is typically used for transporting high-ranking members of the German Government, such as Angela Merkel. The two A340s have an average age of 21 years and haven’t been known as the most reliable aircraft in recent years.

The Airbus A350 enters service

Tweets from both the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) and the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) today confirmed that since Monday, Germany’s first VIP Airbus A350 has been available for regular use by suitably senior members of the German Government on government business.

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So far, the Luftwaffe has taken delivery of just one Airbus A350, 10+03. The aircraft was initially delivered to Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg on May 7th. It then underwent a VIP cabin configuration for three months before being handed over to the German Government on August 20th.

However, even once the aircraft was in the German Air Force’s hands, it didn’t enter service straight away. Instead, the air force put it through its paces with some extreme flights. The most demanding flight saw the A350-900 complete what is possibly the world’s longest non-stop A350 flight to date from Cologne to Canberra.

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German Air Force, Airbus A350, Flight Record
The 19-hour 13-minute flight could be the longest A350 flight yet. Photo courtesy of Radarbox.com

The aircraft flew for 19 hours and 13 minutes, surpassing Qantas’ non-stop Project Sunrise test flight from London to Sydney, which clocked in at 18 hours and 17 minutes in a Boeing 787-9. The aircraft is currently outfitted with a temporary cabin configuration. While allowing for VIPs, the cabin is only designed to last until the other two A350s enter service, at which point it’ll be replaced with a more permanent fixture.

About the aircraft

According to the Bundeswehr, the aircraft needs a minimum of ten members of crew. This consists of two in the cockpit and a further eight in the cabin. On long-haul flights, it will carry two crews. In its current configuration, it can carry 133 passengers. For comparison, Lufthansa’s A350-900s carry between 293 and 319 passengers when fully loaded.

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Airbus A350, Bundeswehr, Luftwaffe
The aircraft is fitted out to carry 113 passengers. Photo: Lufthansa Technik

The aircraft contains a work and conference area with several offices followed by a lounge area and then passenger seating for those accompanying the government officials. However, according to the Bundeswehr, the aircraft can also transport the wounded and sick if needed.

According to data from AIB Family, the second A350 bound for the Luftwaffe completed a customer acceptance flight on December 4th in Toulouse, having taken its first flight on November 18th.

Have you seen the German Government’s Airbus A350 out and about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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