German government places firm order for three ACJ350 XWB

Airbus A340 16+01 landing in Leipzig
Thomas Liebenberg Creative Commons

Germany placed a firm order for three ACJ350-900 XWB and thus became the first government customer of this type of aircraft.

These aircraft are intended for multiple uses: government transport, troop transport, and medical evacuation. The delivery of the first plane is planned for 2020 and that of the two others in 2022.

The total cost is estimated to be around €1.2 billion, making it one of the most expensive governmental fleets on the planet.

The three A350-900s should be acquired from Airbus for €640 million. Refurbishing the cabin to a VIP standard should cost €288 million, while specific defense systems will add another €229 million to the bill. The latter should include the integration of a Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-Measure system (LAIRCM) to protect the planes from incoming missiles.

Currently, two Luftwaffe A340s compose the backbone of the German governmental fleet. Another two A319s and an A321 also serves for official trips. But the fleet is aging and the readiness of the fleet has reached a record low.

Hopefully, the three aircraft will put an end to the series of mishaps that have been affecting the German governmental fleet in the past years.

The most recent incident dates back to May 19, 2019, when by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had to delay a flight to Bulgaria by an hour after a failure of the auxiliary power unit (APU) of the governmental A321. The minister had to wait for another A321 of the Bundeswehr to fly in as a replacement, forcing his meeting with the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to be postponed by an hour.

A month earlier, another plane used by Maas burst a tire upon landing in New York. On March 1, 2019, he was stuck in Mali due to a failure of an Airbus A319, also part of the governmental fleet.

But negotiations officially started on the acquisition of a new governmental fleet 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.


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