German government plane ′gremlin′ strikes again, delays foreign minister | News | DW | 19.05.2019
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German government plane 'gremlin' strikes again, delays foreign minister

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ran late for a trip to Bulgaria after a fault was found with an engine on his government plane. The aging fleet that carries top German politicians has faced a litany of problems.

An inaugural visit to Bulgaria by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was held up on Sunday after a problem was found on the military Airbus he was due to fly on to Sofia.

The plane's pilot said an auxiliary turbine, which supplies compressed air to the plane's engines, failed, forcing engineers to arrange a workaround.

Maas flew from Berlin to Sofia an hour later on the Bundeswehr Airbus A321. It was not immediately clear whether Germany' top diplomat was able to meet Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov as scheduled.Read more: Chancellor Angela Merkel's plane suffers damage on the ground

Sunday's trouble was the third breakdown of a German government plane carrying Maas. In February, he was forced to wait 20 hours in the Malian capital Bamako after an engine fault. Last month, his plane burst a tire upon landing in New York.

Comedy of errors?

But the foreign minister's bad luck is still the tip of the iceberg. The German government's aging fleet of 14 planes that carry ministers and the president has encountered numerous other problems over the past few months.

In November, the Airbus A340-300 set to bring German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the G20 summit in Buenos Aires was forced to make an unscheduled stop at Cologne/Bonn airport after a "serious malfunction."

A month earlier, the same plane was grounded after rats gnawed through electric cables, stranding Finance Minister Olaf Scholz in Indonesia.

Read more: German air force jet makes rough landing, diverts traffic

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier faced delays when the Airbus A340 he was set to fly on experienced technical problems in November and January during a tour of Africa.

Development Minister Gerd Müller had to cancel a trip to Namibia in January during his tour of Africa due to another mechanical issue.

Last month, a Bombardier Global 5000 was severely damaged in an emergency landing in Berlin after problems during a test flight.

In response, the Defense Ministry announced plans in February to buy three new Airbus A350s for long-haul flights. The first is expected to be delivered in 2020 and the other two in 2022.

Watch video 04:24

Flashback: East German Government Planes

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