Ecuador is seeking two or more VIP aircraft for presidential and military staff transport duties. Although the Ecuadorian air force has not released details of its request for proposals - which is expected to be issued during the second half of 2007 - local sources say the intention is to acquire two turbofan-powered corporate aircraft and a twin turboprop.

The air force is already examining Embraer's Legacy corporate jet, which is understood to be the preferred choice, while ATR has submitted a proposal to supply a VIP-configured ATR 42-500. Other likely contenders are Bombardier and Gulfstream.

Relying until recently upon the air force's small fleet of ageing Rockwell Sabreliners to perform VIP duties, operations have been hampered by a lack of spare parts availability. Resorting to available army and air force turboprop transports for internal flights, and state-owned TAME aircraft for trips abroad, safety and security has become a rising concern. After losing defence minister Guadalupe Larrivia earlier this year in a collision between two Ecuadorian army Gazelles, Ecuador's congress has been pressing for a new dedicated presidential transport.

Source: Flight International