Merkel fan accidentally grounds chancellor's plane

Published 15.05.2019 00:03

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government plane has been grounded by an excited fan who jumped out of her van to take a photo of it at Dortmund airport but forgot to put the parking brake on, and the vehicle rolled slowly into the nose of the jet. Germany's Spiegel Online posted a picture Tuesday of the low-speed collision with the Global 5000 jet and reported that the van driver was an employee of the airport. The German air force confirmed in a tweet that Merkel returned to Berlin by helicopter Monday after her plane was damaged by a vehicle, but didn't provide further details.

The accident is a headache the air force doesn't need, after a string of highly publicized breakdowns of the aging government fleet causing delays for Merkel and others. The fleet of 14 – partly quite old – airplanes, which are used for members of the cabinet and the president, has been dogged by a series of mishaps on official trips abroad. These series of failures 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 Angela Merkel's airplane for the G20 summit. Merkel missed the beginning of a G20 summit in Buenos Aires last November as the plane carrying her from Berlin encountered electrical problems and was forced to land in Cologne. 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.

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