The German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, canceled a trip to the Indo-Pacific to visit Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The cancellation was made after the Airbus A340 plane he was traveling on experienced technical problems and was forced to land twice in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The problem is the latest in a series of accidents that have befallen German government planes. As a result of these problems, Germany plans to quickly accelerate the retirement plan of the A340 and similar aircraft.
1. The plane had a wing problem
Reported by the Associated Press, Baerbock’s trip, which is scheduled to last for nearly a week, starts with a departure from Berlin on Sunday and is planned to arrive in Canberra, Australia the following night. However, mechanical problems with the aging wing forced him to return to Abu Dhabi after stopping refueling there.
After that problem the plane tried to fly again to Australia after a test flight showed no problems. Technical problems resurfaced shortly after takeoff and the plane had to return to Abu Dhabi again.
We don’t just have close friends and partners in the Indo-Pacific. This region will decisively mark the 21st century world order Baerbock said.
Because of that problem Baerbock canceled his visit and will return to Germany on Tuesday, on a commercial flight.
2. The German government has repeatedly experienced aircraft problems
Reported by The Guardian, the crash occurred after a series of previous aircraft problems. In mid-May, the plane Baerbock was traveling on had to land in the Qatari capital, Doha, due to a tire failure. On that trip, he was originally scheduled to fly on an Airbus A340-300, but was pulled back after a fault was discovered before departure.
In October 2018, the plane carrying Chancellor Olaf Scholz, then finance minister, to an International Monetary Fund meeting had to land in Indonesia after rodents gnawed through the plane’s cables.
In November 2018, a plane carrying former Chancellors Angela Merkel and Scholz to the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina had to turn back after the radio controls on the Konrad Adenauer Airbus failed. Merkel and Scholz then traveled on a commercial flight.
In 2016, the trip to Mali by Ursula von der Leyen, then defense minister, was disrupted after her A340 plane had to make a landing in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
3. Aircraft with problems will stop operating more quickly
The Ministry of Defense said that two government A340 aircraft would be out of service by the end of next year.
Because of that problem the air force said it would retire the two A340s from service as soon as possible. Namely in the coming weeks. The initial plan was for the aircraft which is now in Abu Dhabi. To retire at the end of 2024 and the other aircraft at the end of next month.
Due to government aircraft problem. Germany has ordered three new A350 jets.