The second A350 to be used by the Luftwaffe for the transport of the German government representatives completed its maiden flight at Airbus’ main facility of Toulouse-Blagnac.
On November 18, 2020, the A350, registered as F-WZGL, carried out a first test flight that lasted almost three hours. The plane took off from Toulouse, southwestern France, flew across the Bay of Biscay all the way to the western region of Brittany, before flying back to its departure airport. A local planespotter caught the plane, not yet painted, in their lens.
It is the second out of three A350s ordered by the German Federal government. Once it is delivered, it will be the first to be fitted with a VIP cabin. When the first aircraft was delivered in August 2020, Lufthansa Technik had installed a transitional cabin for the transport of German officials. Its final VIP cabin will only be installed once its two sister aircraft enter service, by 2022.
It is the world’s first government fleet based on the A350-900. In addition to the unique cabins installed by Lufthansa Technik, Airbus also fitted the planes with special avionics, such as a Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-Measure system (LAIRCM) to protect from incoming missiles.
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.