Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The next Air Force One will be a Boeing 747-8

Boeing will build a fleet of three aircraft based on the 747-8 to serve as the next Air Force One, Bloomberg reports. The 747-8 is the latest version of the iconic jumbo jet — a design that dates back to the 1960s — with new wings, new engines, and an extended fuselage. It's been around since 2005, but has seen limited traction with airlines thanks to rising fuel prices over the last several years, limited interest in ultra-high-capacity long-haul routes, and competition from Airbus' A380.

The aging fortress in the sky that currently ferries the President of the United States around the world is a Boeing VC-25, a military variant of the 747-200. The 747-200 is a very old plane: the last one was built in 1991, and newer aircraft are far more fuel efficient, technologically advanced, and — frankly — better showcases for American industrial might, which the President would probably want to show off on his travels. Boeing archrival Airbus, a European company, did not submit a bid for the contract based on its enormous A380 double-decker.

The current president won't get to experience the comfort and luxury of the new ride, though: the first one won't be delivered until 2018, and it'll undergo five years of testing before entering full service.