“This is our Air Force One”, Stefan Rauscher says about the aircraft “Konrad Adenauer”. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier enjoy using the Airbus A340 300, which is operated by the Bundeswehr, as government aircraft.
Rauscher is the project director for the aircraft “Konrad Adenauer” at the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw). He has been working for the armament sector of the Armed Forces for 18 years. “I was already the responsible project manager for the procurement of the aircraft and now I am the project director and have the pleasure to keep them in shape.” Today he is responsible for all aircraft of the Special Air Mission Wing of the German Federal Ministry of Defense and the C-160 Transall.
Since November 2016 “Konrad Adenauer” has been in Hamburg at Lufthansa Technik for a scheduled check. “We don’t only have the necessary checks carried out, we also bring the aircraft into line with the standard of the Lufthansa fleet. There is no time for that during ongoing operation”, Rauscher explains about the aircraft’s present stay in Hamburg. At the end of March it will be returned to the German Air Force. Besides having looked at several thousands of parts during the necessary checks, technology and comfort have also been improved.
“We upgraded the business class seats to the latest state of the art and installed a broadband internet connection”, the project director says. These updates do not only serve the comfort of the members of government and their delegations, they also have technical reasons. “By keeping our aircraft at the same standard as the Lufthansa fleet, we can use their spare parts and repair networks – at market prices”, the 50-year-old civil servant, who had served at the Air Force as officer before, explains.
“Konrad Adenauer”, its sister aircraft “Theodor Heuss” and the other aircraft of the Special Air Mission Wing of the German MoD have to be checked regularly. “This is oriented towards the regulations of civil aviation and is stipulated by the German Armed Forces’ aviation authority (Luftfahrtamt der Bundeswehr)”, Rauscher explains.
These checks are indispensable for a safe operation: “The safety of the aircraft, its crew and its passengers is our highest priority.” In the course of the actual “Intermediate Layover Check”, which has do be performed approximately every five years, the entire interior including the interior paneling is removed in order to inspect the aircraft in detail. “During this check works are carried out, which could not be done during smaller checks”, the project director says. In addition, every 10 to 12 years an even more extensive overhaul is conducted “during which even the paint is removed.”
With the integrated improvements and the concluded checks, Rauscher is sure that the highest-ranking representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany can travel to their appointments around the world in a modern, safe and functional aircraft. “Yes, it is our Air Force One”, he says and smiles contentedly “my team and I are very proud of that.”