German foreign minister stuck in Mali due to plane breakdown
Yet another incident affected the German governmental fleet: Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas was stuck in Mali due to a plane failure on March 1, 2019.
Maas was supposed to return from his five day visit to West Africa which has taken him to Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Mali.
However, the Airbus A319 that was carrying him was grounded due to a technical defect, and the minister had to extend his stay in Bamako while waiting for a replacement plane. He should be able to return to Berlin later in the day. A hydraulic leak in the landing gear might be the reason.
This incident is the latest in a long series of mishaps. The most notable one happened on November 30, 2018. After an A340 VIP “Konrad Adenauer” was forced to an emergency landing in Cologne, Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel had to give up on attending the opening of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. As a backup A340 was not available at the time, she was forced to take a commercial flight from Madrid to Argentina. The problem was later found to be caused by an electronic distribution box, which caused several systems, including the communications, to shut down. The flight crew had to land using a satellite phone.
More recently, Development Minister Gerd Müller aborted a tour in Africa in January 2019, after he was unable to visit Namibia due to another plane defect. The same month, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier encountered similar trouble in Ethiopia.
To put an end to these problems that are becoming embarrassing for the German diplomacy, a procurement process could soon be brought to the table to refresh the governmental fleet. “It was bitter that the Chancellor came late for G20,” said Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. “So that this does not happen again, we are now catching up with the crews and checking the procurement of one or two more aircraft for the long haul”.
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