Meet “Merkel One”: The New German Air Force Airbus A350

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The Executive Transport Wing of the German Government (Flugbereitschaft) will soon have one of three Airbus A350s. These aircraft would be considered the German equivalents to Air Force One. According to FlugRevue, the first Airbus A350 has already been painted. Last week, the aircraft rolled out of the paint shop at the Airbus facility in Hamburg-Finkenwerder – only to fly back to Toulouse shortly after.

Hi Fly A350
A total of three A350s were ordered for German government executive transport. Photo: Airbus

Three A350s

We reported just over a year ago that the government of Germany was ordering three Airbus A350 aircraft to replace its aging Airbus A340 aircraft. Reportedly, the German Government was trying to decide between the A330 and the A350.

Over a month ago, the first A350 ordered by the Flugbereitschaft took its maiden flight in Toulouse. At the time, however, it was without its distinctive governmental livery. Now we have a glimpse of the new aircraft “fully dressed” and it looks great! Below is some rare video of the new bird:

Just two days ago the two-engine widebody launched for the first time in its new livery in Hamburg. Shortly after, it flew back to Toulouse. FlugRevue reports that there will be further flight testing before the aircraft moves back to Hamburg in April. Once back in Hamburg, the aircraft will go to Lufthansa Technik to be fitted with its cabin interior. The A350 is also to be fitted with a missile defense system – although where this work will be done is unknown.

The Flugbereitschaft

The A350s will technically be operated by the German Air Force, but more specifically the “Flugbereitschaft” of the Federal Ministry of Defense. Translating to “Executive Transport Wing”, the military unit is responsible for transporting the chancellor and other high-level governmental and parliamentary officials. The Flugbereitschaft’s current fleet consists of 2 Airbus A340-300s, 5 Airbus A310s, 2 Airbus A319s, 1 Airbus A321, and 4 Bombardier Global 5000s.

The A350s were ordered to replace the aging A340s. Unfortunately, the A340 had made news due to breakdowns and flight cancellations. Interestingly, the brand new machines come from canceled orders from civil customers and are therefore available on short notice. This is a similar situation to the US Air Force One and its 747-8s, which came from an order by Transaaero.

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The delivery of all three aircraft is expected to be completed in 2022. However, the first aircraft, registration F-WZFF, is expected to arrive at the Air Force this summer.

The A340s filling the same role have been problematic. Photo: Kentaro Iemoto via Wikimedia Commons

Conclusion

These new aircraft should provide a reliable and comfortable ride for high-level members of the German government while being more reliable than the preceding A340s. Hopefully, we’ll get a peek at the interior when it’s ready but there’s no guarantee we’ll actually get to have a look.

“The German Air Force was our very first external customer. We have been equipping its aircraft, including government aircraft, for decades, thus forming a comprehensive partnership…With our wide-ranging expertise for the Airbus A350, we are well equipped to meet the high expectations of the new government aircraft.” -Wieland Timm, Senior Director Sales, VIP & Special Mission Aircraft at Lufthansa Technik

Are you excited to see the new A350 in action in a few months? Let us know in the comments.

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