Recently elected Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner has set in motion a programme to replace the current presidential transport aircraft, a Boeing 757-23A acquired in 1992. Budgeted at approximately $55 million, the Argentinian government intends to select and procure a new aircraft by August 2008.

Setting its sights on a significantly smaller aircraft with sufficient range to reach any point within South America, Argentina is seeking a twin-engine aircraft capable of accommodating 18 passengers including the Boeing Business Jet, Bombardier's Global Express XRS, the Embraer Lineage 1000 and the Gulfstream G550. Local government sources have hinted that the G550 is viewed as the prime candidate, with Embraer's Lineage 1000 a close contender.

Requests for proposals are expected to be issued early next year as soon as auditing work on the Boeing 757 is complete and the aircraft is cleared for sale.

Considerable urgency has been attached to this replacement programme following a number of availability issues and the 757's high operating costs. Similar reasons forced the recent withdrawal of the presidential Sikorsky S-70A Black Hawk helicopter, which is now up for sale. .

Source: Flight International