Feeds

Could the Airbus A380 be the new Air Force One?

Obama's chopper is European

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The US government has issued a "survey" in which it asks industry to offer proposals for a replacement Air Force One - the presidential plane. A modernised Boeing jumbo jet is by far the likeliest contender, but one should note that the planned new presidential helicopters will actually be European made - there is an outside chance for the Airbus A380 superjumbo as the President's aeroplane.

Corporate art of the new Marine One in presidential paintjob

The President would never fly in a foreign aircraft. Err...

The US Air Force, in charge of the commander-in-chief's longhaul transport, has issued a request for information under the banner "Presidential Aircraft Recapitalisation". As the airmen note, the existing VC-25 planes are modified Boeing 747-200s, a type which has now ceased service with airlines. This has made spare parts and tech support much more expensive than formerly.

According to the USAF, this means the time has come to get some new planes:

The Air Force conducted an Analysis of Alternatives to examine if it would be more cost effective to maintain the current Air Force One, or to buy a new aircraft. Given the diminishing parts supplier base, increasing maintenance time, and system upgrades that would be necessary to meet future air traffic control requirements, it was found that replacing the VC-25 was the most cost effective option.

The new jets will be "a new-build, commercial derivative, wide-body aircraft" to be delivered from 2017, with second and third planes following at two-yearly intervals. Assuming that something at least as large as a 747-200 is wanted, this would seem to limit the field to just two candidates: Boeing's jumbo, still being manufactured in the form of the much-modernised 747-8, and the European double-decker megalifter, the Airbus A380. The Ilyushin Il-96 doesn't seem especially likely still to be on offer by 2017, and hasn't sold especially well even in Russia.

Normally, America's Boeing would be seen as a foregone conclusion. However, the replacements for the current Presidential helicopters (operated by the US Marines, callsign "Marine One") are actually based on the EH/AW 101 design from UK/Italian company AgustaWestland, already in service with European armed forces under the name "Merlin". So the unthinkable concept of the US president travelling in a foreign aircraft is already reality. (Albeit the US 101 presidential choppers are being assembled in the States, and will see a lot of American workshare.)

Furthermore, the US Air Force recently said it wanted to place a huge order for air-to-air refuelling tankers in Europe rather than with American factories. As it turned out, the USAF was told to think again by oversight politicians and authorities in Washington, and the tanker deal remains in flux. But the air force itself would seem to have an open mind on the question of buying overseas, and at least initially it is the air force which will handle the Air Force One purchase.

Flight International quotes Boeing spokesmen as saying: "Clearly we understand the presidential requirements ... [we] look forward to supporting our customer’s needs in the future."

Airbus said it would "settle on a course of action" after reviewing the air force call for information. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
APPLE FAILS to ditch class action suit over ebook PRICE-FIX fiasco
Do not pass go, do cough (up to) $840m in damages
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.