New Air Force One by 2017??

Amy Butler, of Aviation Week, sneaked a big scoop into the magazine blog’s Check 6 podcast this morning. In the weekly “missed approaches” segment, she reports:


Amy Butler:Well, this missed approach is just something that’s been under the radar atleast to me, maybe not to other people. But I was interviewing an air forceofficial this week and it came to my attention that apparently the White Househas just recently begun discussions with Air Mobility Command … and apparentlythey’re saying that by 2017 they would like to have a new air force one on theramp.

And if that’strue – and I think it is – that’s a pretty big deal and a pretty aggressiveschedule. And I’m kind of curious to see a couple of things. One, what the requirementswould be and what would drive them to abandon the current model with the 747. Also,two, if the Obama Administration comes in and says, ‘Hey, wait a minute in thevein of sort of finding savings … if maybe the Obama administration might beless aggressive and maybe push that back a bit.”

The USAF’s two VC-25s are among the last 747-200s that rolled off Boeing’s assembly line in the early 1990s before it upgraded to the 747-400. Fuel costs have forced most commercial carriers to abandon the -200 as the youngest aircraft approach their 20th year in operations.

This blog reported last year that a USAF analysis of alternatives had identified the Airbus A380 as one of the candidates for Air Force One.

A Boeing-Airbus competition for Air Force One could make the furor over the tanker contract sound like child’s play.

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12 Responses to New Air Force One by 2017??

  1. Robert Silliman 12 December, 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    The furor didn’t happen when the EH-101 was chosen as the new ‘Marine One’ (Presidential helicopter).

    If fuel savings is critical – why aren’t they looking at something smaller than the B747/A380? Like the often delayed 787….

  2. RobH 12 December, 2008 at 10:34 pm #

    It’s a prestige thing, Robert. You can’t have the President of the United States pulling his 787 up next to some sultan’s A380. Don’t let the ‘fuel effiency’ thing fool ya: Size matters.

  3. Andrew 13 December, 2008 at 1:39 am #

    As I personally believe the 787 is slowly throttling the 748I to death, the issue would be national pride against logic, so the A380 would not win.

    These planes do not amass many flying hours, so the most cost effective solution would be to hang newer engines on the existing planes.

  4. Royce 14 December, 2008 at 12:04 am #

    The Air Force leadership doesn’t have enough screwed up aircraft programs on the table right now that they need to add a new Air Force One replacement program to the mix?

  5. SMSgt Mac 14 December, 2008 at 3:18 am #

    Back in the early 80′s I was with one of my program managers visiting a SPO at Wright-Pat(terson AFB). We were in civvies, so he hauled me over to the O-Club for lunch at the Rat Cellar (Ratskeller). We ran into one of his Test Pilot School classmates who was with another guy so we had lunch with them. They were the Test Pilots working the SAM program that was still in competiton at the time. My PM’s friend told us that the Boeing PM told him they’d “sell them the 747 for a dollar” before Boeing let any other brand carry the President of the United States.

    My money is on the 747-8

  6. BobV 14 December, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    RobH it absolutely right regarding size, Air Force One is the transportation of the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world,leader of the free world
    It would be unthinkable for him to have to use something less impressive size wise or of older fashioned design than other heads of state that he may be meeting.
    It’s hard to think of a suitable modern aircraft that Boeing can offer as the 787 is certainly not big enough and the 747 is getting quite old and possable not big enough.

  7. Stephen Trimble 14 December, 2008 at 11:16 pm #

    Don’t be hating on the 747! It’s still the prettiest thing in the sky, and, in my opinion, far more pleasant to look at than the A380. The 747-8 adds about 18ft to the 747-400, which is a similar stretch of the 747-200, which is Air Force One. So I’d wager the -8 could meet the president’s size needs. Obviously, the A380 would be bigger. Keep in mind the new presidential helo fleet went to a foreign supplier (AgustaWestland, although Lockheed Martin primed the contract). The EH101 won the contract because it is larger than the Sikorsky HH-92, yet, unlike the H-47, small enough to land on the South Lawn without obliterating the rose garden.

  8. SMSgt Mac 15 December, 2008 at 6:14 am #

    The 747 IS gorgeous – and the A380 is a bloated whale with landing gear that side loads the asphalt and a wing that didn’t reach the accepted industry standard loads test before failure.
    Hmmmm. tough choice.

  9. Steph 15 December, 2008 at 7:46 am #

    Well, maybe it’s time for Americans and their president to get rid of their arrogance over the “free” and “not-free” world by making a logic decision rather than a childish “mine is bigger than yours” one.
    But if in the present-day world, the only remaining sign of any US domination is in the size of the president’s aircraft, well, let’s laught it off…
    Forgive my rudeness but I can’t help when I read that size matters when it comes for “leaders of the world” to meet and discuss about our future and lives… Sorry.

  10. RobH 15 December, 2008 at 4:21 pm #

    No need to apologize, Ms. Steph, but reality is what it is and it’s not an ‘American thing’. Dubai Tower, St. Peter’s Basilica, Kansai Airport, or even admiring the pretty people on TV: It’s a human thing. Childish? Not when you can admire the amazing things humans can accomplish, instead of dwelling on troubles caused by a select few (hint: turn off the TV and travel more).

    On that note, Air Force One is an absolutely gorgeous aircraft, impeccably maintained inside and out by humans with an immense sense of pride. Go Blue!

  11. Jim 10 January, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    I believe that an American president should fly on an American Built aircraft. Built by Americans in the USA. Why? 2 reasons one is for security! This aircraft is not only a flying machine but the mobile command for the President in times of an emergency! Remember the Russian Embassy? All of the bugs and listening devices found in the brand new building. Why chance it again? Reason 2, Boeing has built amazing aircraft for the military over the past years, Seen the the C-17 lately, and has some of the greatest minds working in avation today. We should give them the funds and our confindence to design and build a modern transport for our president. They should be given a deline and no lee way for failure to have it completed in time, and no over run budgets. I belive that pride in country and thankful employees will perform, and come up with an amazing aircraft. Proud American

  12. Edward N Sorensen Jr 13 March, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    When are americans going to wake up and try to save this country by purchasing AMERICAN Products instead of driving this country to complete collapse. First the auto industry and now the Aircraft for the President. We as americans are destroying our country buy doing so, just like we are doing to our auto industry. A very sad sight

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