Boeing 747-8 Jumbo jet, the new Presidential aircraft

February 3
3:03 AM 2016

The Pentagon has announced on Friday that Boeing Co. won a contract to start development work on the 747-8 jumbo jet that would replace planes used as the presidential Air Force One from early next decade. The initial contract worth $ 25.8 million awarded to map out how the program can meet cost and performance criteria.

The U.S. Air Force said that it had earmarked $1.65 billion for two replacement jets but didn't detail the expected cost or delivery dates for the replacement planes. Pentagon now operates the outdated model of Boeing VC-25 airplanes. The planes used as president's private vessels will reach the end of their planned 30-year life.

Air Force One should be fitted with the necessary assets and facilities for the president such as wide space of a personal office, a conference room, sophisticated communication equipment and antimissile device. Shortly, Air Force One will transport the president around the world quickly, safely, and luxuriously.

Air Force Secretary, Deborah Lee James, as quoted by Inquisitr said in a statement, "The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America and the office of the president of the United State. The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States [that], when fully missionized, meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the president of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest."

Compared to the twin-engine plane, the four-engine plane is more profitable because it provides an extra margin of flight safety. The Pentagon decision was widely expected since the only other suitable four-engine jet is A380 built by Airbus. The Wall Street Journal reported that Airbus executives have previously said they were unlikely to bid for the contract though would wait to see the requirements for the plane before making a final decision.

Boeing 747-8 is able to transport 467 passengers and entered service in early 2012. The aircraft has four latest generation General Electric engines. Though it has a large body and upper deck hump and aerodynamic improvement, 747-8 faced slow sales just like its competitor, double-deck A380 superjumbo jetliner. 

The four-engine aircraft is now mostly a cargo aircraft. The airlines have favored a batch of long-range twin-engine aircraft like Boeing 777,787 and Airbus A350 for more fuel-efficient.

As told by Reuters, Boeing announced last week to slow the production  of its 747-8 model in half and take a $569 million charge in the fourth quarter as it faces dwindling sales.

The program moves ahead over the coming years starting from engineering phase to the design phase and later into the production stage. The contract will be modified by the Air Force. The Air Force had said previously it was looking to introduce the planes in 2021.

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