MIAMI — Last Friday, the United States Air Force has announced that has granted Boeing the first contract to replace the country’s presidential Air Force One fleet with a modified version of the 747-8.
In January 2015, the US Air Force announced the selection of the 747-8. After analysis of capability requirements, it was concluded that a four-engine, wide body aircraft is required to meet the needs of the Air Force One mission.
“The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States, when fully missionized, meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the president of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest.” Said Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force.
The contract is the first for the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization (PAR) program. Contract modifications will be made to it in the future “to purchase the commercial 747-8 aircraft, as well as to design, modify and test those aircraft to meet the presidential mission.”
“This is the start of our contractual relationship with Boeing. It will allow Boeing to begin working on what will be the next Air Force One,” said Col. Amy McCain, PAR program manager.
Activities to be carried out by the manufacturer include the definition of detailed requirements and design trade-offs to support decisions, that will lead to a lower risk Engineering and Manufacturing Development program and lower life-cycle costs.
The contract comes just days after Boeing revealed an additional 747-8 program built rate decrease, along with an $885 million pre-tax charge. In September, Boeing will produce just one 747-8 every two months, down from the current monthly rate of 1.3 aircraft.
“The current fleet of VC-25A presidential aircraft has performed exceptionally well, a testament to the Airmen who support, maintain and fly the aircraft,” Secretary James said. “Yet, it is time to replace them. Parts obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources and increased down times for maintenance are existing challenges that will increase until a new aircraft is fielded.”