Air Force One replacement deal with Trump cost Boeing $1bn in losses

Former president Donald Trump said the cost of the plane was 'out of control'

Air Force One, carrying US  President Joe Biden, at Portland Air National Guard Base on April 21, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. AFP

Boeing chief executive Dave Calhoun spoke of his regret at entering into a deal to modify the US presidential jet, Air Force one, which cost the company at least $1 billion in losses.

Mr Calhoun made the remarks during a call with business analysts in which he discussed a series of setbacks for the company, ranging from delays to the forthcoming 777 aircraft and intense scrutiny after two fatal crashes of the 737 Max, which entered service in 2017 but was found to have a catastrophic design flaw, which Boeing has worked to rectify.

“Air Force One I’m just going to call a very unique moment, a very unique negotiation, a very unique set of risks that Boeing probably shouldn’t have taken,’ he said.

In 2018, the aviation giant signed a $3.9 billion contract to replace Air Force One, the technical name for any aircraft carrying the president of the US, but generally used to refer to the presidential Boeing 747.

Under Barack Obama, spiralling costs to keep the aircraft maintained led to a decision to replace the Boeing 747 VC-25 – a military version of the 747 used by the president since the Reagan administration.

Donald Trump called these costs “out of control”, but nonetheless went ahead with the plan to replace the aircraft with new, specially modified Boeing 747-8 planes.

President Trump said at the time he wanted the aircraft to appear “more American looking”, shunning the traditional light blue colour of the presidential plane, which was introduced in the 1960s.

Work began in March 2020 with a significant overhaul of the 747-8’s design, to include a new medical unit, a new presidential lounge and new secure communications technology.

Air Force One suffered from "higher supplier costs, higher costs to finalise technical requirements and schedule delays", Mr Calhoun said.

The highly sophisticated aircraft, known as the “flying White House”, is designed to keep the president and 70 other senior staff and crew safe in any eventuality, including a nuclear attack on the US mainland.

Updated: April 28, 2022, 7:02 AM
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