Air Force One With (slight) Russian Origin

It’s not a B747 freighter theme we are highlighting here this time. The U.S. Air Force One has traditionally been a Boeing aircraft and despite previous offers from Airbus, that’s the way it will remain. However, an interesting and maybe somewhat ironical situation has cropped up concerning the much publicized Air Force One Presidential aircraft.

Former Transaero now U.S. Air Force 747-8 at Everett’s Paine Field Airport, Washington State  -  courtesy Boeing
Former Transaero now U.S. Air Force 747-8 at Everett’s Paine Field Airport, Washington State - courtesy Boeing

Trump put Boeing under pressure
Since Donald Trump took up the reins in the White House, there has been a hot debate as to whether the costs for replacement aircraft for the Presidential fleet are way too high. The president told Boeing to go back to the drawing board and come up with a B747-8 series aircraft with all the presidential trimmings, but at a far lower price.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has announced that they intend to acquire two B747-8s to replace the aging B747-200Bs which go under the code name of VC-25A. These will not be newly built especially for the Air Force, but are said to be two aircraft with serial numbers N894BA and N895BA which were ordered and manufactured for the Russian carrier Transaero Airlines which once had its base in Moscow. That carrier went bankrupt and never took the two Boeings, which since then have been stored at the manufacturer’s plant in Seattle in the hope that a new owner will arrive.

Transaero had large expansion plans
The Moscow-based airline once had a large mixed fleet of Boeing aircraft which served regular passenger and charter destinations to the Far East and the Caribbean  before the Russian economic downturn occurred. They, along with other newly created Russian airlines went down the drain and hence the two B747-8s stranded since then in Seattle. Boeing has not been so successful in sales of their latest version of the B747. Passenger models are very few and the production line has been mainly held open with the B747-8 freighter which has had more success.

A good deal for the U.S. Air Force?
The two ex-Transaero aircraft have never flown commercially, are basically new, but could maybe be termed as second-hand aircraft. Could it be that Boeing has come up with a cheaper solution for the White House after all? News released last week indicates that the USAF has officially requested Boeing to come up with proposals for modification, testing and operation of the two aircraft with the aim of having them in the Presidential fleet by 2024.
A present for the White House? It is not revealed what, if at all, Tranaero paid as a deposit for these two 747s. If they did, then that money is anyway in Boeings pocket. If Boeing gets the lucrative deal to re-modify both aircraft to USAF specifications, then this would give them quite a pocketful of cash. So, is the deal then that the USAF gets both aircraft for a small nominal sum and thereby leaves everyone happy as far as the cost is concerned?

No bugs!
On a somewhat humorous note - luckily both aircraft never passed into Russian registration or operated from Russia itself. Therefore, no worries as to whether other listening devices were already installed which might give Mr Trump problems in the future. Assuming of course that he’s still on seat in 2024.

John Mc Donagh

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