Lufthansa Technik AG formally handed over the first of two Airbus A319's ordered for the Special Air Mission Wing of the German Ministry of Defence (BMVg) to the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) on Wednesday in the presence of state secretary Rüdiger Wolf. The aircraft was fitted with a VIP cabin and additional military equipment in approx. nine months, on time and within budget.
The A319 is the first aircraft to have been delivered under the program to upgrade the medium- and long-haul fleets of the BMVg's Special Air Mission Wing. A second A319 is expected to be handed over by Lufthansa Technik in June 2010. Lufthansa Technik is due to deliver two Airbus A340-300's that will form the Special Air Mission Wing's new long-haul fleet towards the end of 2010 and in the summer of 2011 respectively.
In his handover speech, August Wilhelm Henningsen, Chairman of the Executive Board of Lufthansa Technik, said, "Today's handover of a new aircraft type, the Airbus A319, to the Special Air Mission Wing of the Federal Ministry of Defence is the latest milestone in an extremely successful collaboration that began over half a century ago with the temporary conversion of a Lufthansa-owned Lockheed Super Constellation for Federal Chancellor Adenauer. The German Air Force is Lufthansa Technik's oldest customer and the pleasant fact that it has maintained its trust in us for so long fills us with great pride and a great sense of responsibility."
The new aircraft cabin is divided into a number of zones: a VIP area that has twelve seats and a delegation area in which, depending on the configuration, between 22 and 32 people can sit and also travel long distances in comfort thanks to a generous seat pitch. The entire aircraft is designed to meet the needs of the disabled. nice®, the digital cabin management and entertainment system developed by Lufthansa Technik, has also been installed. The timelessly elegant and impressive design dispenses entirely with the need to use real wood.
A number of additional measures were implemented during the conversion work to meet specific requirements on the part of the BMVg's Special Air Mission Wing and the Luftwaffe. Thus, for example, the aircraft is equipped with four auxiliary tanks that enable it to fly non-stop from Berlin to Beijing or Washington. For medevac operations, in which the aircraft might be required to transport the wounded, accident victims or sick passengers, the delegation area can be converted to a flying intensive care unit complete with extra oxygen and a separate power supply. A secure communication and information system, comprising telephony, fax and Internet/e-mail connection, has also been installed. A special oxygen system enables the aircraft to be used on routes with special requirements, e.g. the Himalaya route.
On top of this, Lufthansa Technik has been engaged to supply support services for the new medium- and long-haul operations. These will also include four Global 5000's due to be delivered to the Special Air Mission Wing by Bombardier at the end of 2011. The scope of services Lufthansa Technik will provide covers maintenance management, servicing of the aircraft, engines and equipment, spares provisioning and the supply and updating of aeronautical and technical documentation.
From 2010 onwards, the Hamburg site will have the capacity to outfit three widebody aircraft with VIP cabins simultaneously.
Beside the cooperation in the ACJ318 program both companies also work regularly together in the highly individual VIP completion business for the A320 - and the A330 / A340 - families.
The entire fleet of 24 A340-600s is scheduled for conversion by 2015.