In the latest in a series of German government plane failures, another German minister was left stranded on a trip abroad because of technical problems. German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, had to interrupt his Africa tour on Monday in Malawi as he was forced to take a scheduled flight to Zambia in order to continue his tour.
German government planes have recently hit the headlines over technical glitches. At the end of November 2018, Chancellor Angela Merkel had to interrupt her journey to the G20 summit in Argentina because the radio system of the government plane she was on malfunctioned. After the incident on the way to Buenos Aires, the German Air Force, or Luftwaffe, could not fly the chancellor on to the G20 summit in another plane in time because no operational crew was available. Merkel had to take a scheduled flight the following day.
The news magazine Spiegel reported that the complete system for the plane's ground communications had failed. A complete breakdown of the communications, which have back-up systems, is classified as a dangerous emergency. It was only thanks to a satellite phone on board that the crew was able to make contact with flight controllers and prepare the landing in Cologne.
According to the reports, a month earlier, in October 2018, German Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz, flying with the same aircraft, was also stranded during the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting after the aircraft's technical failure.
These series of mishaps have raised questions over the chronic underinvestment in the German army, or Bundeswehr. The Bundeswehr has stepped up efforts to make improvements following the embarrassing breakdown in Chancellor Merkel's airplane for the G20 summit. The Bundeswehr has considered it necessary to procure at least a third long-haul aircraft of the necessary type – an A330 or A350. Currently, it has two A340s available for the chancellor and other top government officials.