Boeing Only Contender for New Air Force One

Jan 28, 2009
By Amy Butler

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. and its Airbus commercial aircraft manufacturing subsidiary is not planning to compete against Boeing for the prestigious contract to supply three planes to transport future U.S. presidents, according to company officials.

"EADS North America's strategy for growth in the U.S. is based on bringing value to the U.S. warfighter; making industrial investments in the U.S. and in-sourcing high-technology defense and aerospace jobs," says Guy Hicks, the company's spokesman in Washington. "After careful review, we've determined that participation in the Air Force One program will not help us meet these business objectives."

Responses to a request for information from the U.S. Air Force are due today. This leaves Boeing as the only provider for an Air Force One platform. Boeing is exploring the 747-8 and 787 as candidates, according to a company official.

Known as Air Force One, the VIP aircraft officially takes on the name only when the current U.S. president is aboard.

The Air Force has been assessing its options for a replacement Air Force One platform since 2007. EADS looked at A380, A350, A340 and A330 options. But due to the tight security that will surround the systems integration tasks of the Air Force One program, EADS would be required to turn over a so-called green aircraft to a U.S. company for modification. While that model is lucrative for the 179-aircraft Air Force refueling tanker program because it was linked to the opening of a final assembly facility in Alabama, the company didn't find value in selling only three aircraft for presidential transport.

Some industry officials suggest EADS may have opted not to compete to avoid another high-profile fight with Boeing on Capitol Hill. Buy American advocates hammered the Air Force last year after it awarded the KC-135 replacement deal to a team of Northrop Grumman and EADS North America, which proposed an Airbus A330 variant. That deal was scrapped after Boeing protested and congressional auditors determined that the Air Force broke procurement guidelines. A new competition is expected.

It is possible the Air Force could select a Boeing platform and conduct a competition for the systems integration task, a complex set of work to outfit the presidential transport with secure communications and other specialized equipment.

The Air Force says it wants three aircraft, one each delivered in fiscal 2017, 2019 and 2021.

The new aircraft will replace two VC-25As built on Boeing's 747-200 airframe and delivered in 1990. Maintenance of the system is growing because commercial airlines have retired their fleets.

EADS officials say they plan to focus on working with Northrop Grumman to win the second competition against Boeing for tanker work. The company also will continue delivering UH-72A Lakota helicopters to the U.S. military.

Photo: USAF

AVIATION WEEK Copyright 2009, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

◄ Share this news!

Bookmark and Share


The Manhattan Reporter

Recently Added

Recently Commented