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Will Biden be first US president to fly the new Air Force One?

Washington - The current 747s are set to be replaced by new Boeings.

By Web Report

Published: Thu 21 Jan 2021, 11:54 AM

Last updated: Thu 21 Jan 2021, 2:42 PM

While US President Joe Biden is expected to bring in a raft of changes in his tenure, one of the most recognisable planes in the world that’s been in service since President George H.W. Bush's reign in the early 1990s, the Boeing 747 Air Force One aircraft, is also set to be replaced. And Biden may become the first US president to ride the new Air Force One.

The aircraft that’s been in service for nearly three decades is on its way out and will be replaced by a spanking new Boeing 747-8i. Accroding to Boeing.com, the U.S. Air Force announced that it would continue the Boeing tradition with the 747-8 and it will replace the two 747-200s that serve as the presidential Air Force One fleet.

When the 747-8 takes flight as the next Air Force One, Boeing airplanes will mark more than half a century of presidential service through the Jet Age.

The new VC-25B jet is said to be much more spacious and efficient than its predecessor. The upgrade is expected to cost the White House a whopping $5.3 billion, which includes the cost of the aircraft and the modifications, according to a report in Business Insider.

According to whitehouse.gov, Air Force One is one of the most recognizable symbols of the presidency, spawning countless references not just in American culture but across the world. Emblazoned with the words 'United States of America,' the American flag, and the Seal of the President of the United States, it is an undeniable presence wherever it flies.

Air Force One is maintained and operated by the Presidential Airlift Group, part of the White House Military Office. The Airlift Group was founded in 1944 at the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. For the next 15 years, various propeller-driven aircraft served the President until President Dwight D. Eisenhower flew to Europe aboard VC-137A, a Boeing 707 Stratoliner, in August 1959. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy became the first President to fly in a jet specifically built for presidential use — a modified Boeing 707. The first of the current aircraft was delivered in 1990 during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

The last time the plan to upgrade Air Force One was made was during President Ronald Reagan's tenure. It was completed by President George H.W. Bush and cost around $660 million.

The new Air Force Ones will not be built from scratch, according to Boeing.In fact, the Air Force will technically be buying the aircraft secondhand. As part of the cost-saving efforts, Boeing sold the government two 747-8i aircraft that were built and intended to be delivered to a now-defunct Russian airline, Transaero, a Boeing spokesperson told CNN.

The Air Force One replacement programme had kicked off under President Barack Obama, but President Trump was not happy with the $4 billion replacement.

Trump said the projected cost of new Air Force One aircraft was too high, so the U.S. Air Force found a way to lower it: by buying a pair of Boeing 747 jetliners abandoned by a bankrupt Russian airline, according to a report by defenseone.

Purchasing less expensive aircrafts were also discussed as was the downgrading of presidential fittings, but they were turned doing by the service branch, according to the report.

The new VC-25B jet is also expected to be getting a makeover with the new design featuring more red, white, and blue, instead of the timeless blue and white livery. It will also be fitted out with next-generation General Electric engines that are said to be more fuel-efficient and have the capacity to carry enough fuel to fly non-stop around the world from Washington. However, the VC-25B doesn’t have the facility to refuel in air.

The timing of the replacement is in line with the move to retire the current lot of ageing Boeing 747 fleet around the world. If things go according to plan, the new Air Force One will enter service in 2024, with Biden becoming the first commander-in-chief to fly aboard the spanking new jet.


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