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On Friday, Lufthansa Technik AG handed over a converted Airbus A321 to the German Armed Forces in the presence of Vice Admiral Carsten Stawitzki, National Armaments Director of the Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg), and Gabriele Korb, Director-General of the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw). In addition to military missions, the aircraft is also used for political/parliamentary purposes.
On the customer side BAAINBw was responsible for the procurement and on-schedule and on-budget conversion of the former Lufthansa aircraft named "Neustadt an der Weinstraße". BAAINBw had awarded the contract with a total volume of around €90 million to Lufthansa Technik following a public tender at the beginning of 2017.
In addition to the purchase of the aircraft and its conversion, the contract also included the procurement of spare parts and logistical support to ensure operational readiness as well as the adaptation of the aircraft to the requirements of the BMVg's Special Air Mission Wing.
"Past experience has already shown that joint projects between Bundeswehr and Lufthansa Technik have always been implemented very professionally and smoothly," said Constanze Hufenbecher, Chief Financial Officer of Lufthansa Technik. "We are delighted that this tradition has continued with the conversion of this aircraft and that we have been able to keep the cost and time schedule".
She added: "I would like to thank our partners from the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support for their trust and wish the Special Air Mission Wing of the Federal Ministry of Defence "always happy landings" with this A321. At the same time, I would like to explicitly thank our employees for their great commitment. They have thus made a decisive contribution to the successful completion of this project".
In around 18 months of layover time, the Airbus was initially completely overhauled and received 180 modifications. In addition to the airframe, the landing gear and the auxiliary power unit were also overhauled. From a technical point of view, the 18-year-old aircraft is now in mint condition. A flight kit with selected spare parts and tools will make the A321 self-sufficient for flights to remote regions in the future.
Subsequently, the aircraft was equipped with a VIP cabin and additional systems, such as antennas for extended communication options. Two additional fuel tanks and a further water tank extend the range to about 5,000 km. The aircraft can carry up to 84 passengers, 14 in the VIP area and 70 in the delegation area. For this purpose, the take-off weight was increased by four tons. In addition, the Airbus received the corresponding paintwork of the medium and long-haul fleet of the Special Air Mission Wing of the BMVg.
The new aircraft cabin is strongly based on the modern and functional design of the Airbus A319 and A340 of the BMVg's Special Air Mission Wing, which are already in flight operation. Therefore a similar layout as well as the same materials and surfaces were used. The cabin is divided into different areas for government members and their staff, as well as for accompanying delegations.
The cabin is also designed in such a way that part of the delegation area can be converted into a flying ambulance station with intensive medical care facilities (MedEvac) as well as additional oxygen and separate power supply. This means that two wounded, injured or sick persons can be transported under medical supervision.
In cooperation with Lufthansa Technical Training and Lufthansa Aviation Training, technical and flying personnel are currently also being qualified for this new aircraft type.
Lufthansa Technik and the German Armed Forces have been working together successfully for a long time on cabin modifications and maintenance work for the aircraft of the Special Air Mission Wing of the BMVg. Lufthansa Technik currently provides support with various technical services. These range from maintenance management to the maintenance of aircraft, engines and components, as well as spare parts supply, to the provision and revision of aviation and technical documentation.