Airforce One
One of the Boeing 747-200s that now serve as Air Force One. They will be replaced by 2023 with a trio of 747-8 jumbo jets.

The Ultimate Bizjets Get an Upgrade

The U.S. Air Force has tapped Boeing to supply a trio of 747-8 quad-engine jumbo jets to serve as the official presidential aircraft, aka Air Force One, at a cost of more than $1.6 billion. The airplanes are scheduled for delivery beginning in 2017 and will then be outfitted with features like bulletproof glass, anti-missile defense, body armor, a surgical suite, in-flight refueling, auxiliary fuel tanks, tweaked engines, oversized galleys and a secure communications suite. After that, they will undergo years of testing.
If all goes well, whoever is president in 2023 will begin flying on these behemoths, which are even larger than the pair of modified 747-200s the President now uses. Those aircraft entered service in 1989 and, while they have been updated over the years, they show their age. Nancy Reagan allegedly had a hand in picking some of the fabrics for the executive sleeping quarters—earth tones and orange. When George W. Bush took office in 2001, he expressed frustration that he couldn’t watch a movie onboard because a DVD player had yet to be installed.
Boeing introduced the latest version of its venerable 747 family in 2011 as part of its response to Airbus’s new four-engined widebody aircraft, the A380. The passenger version features General Electric’s new, fuel-efficient GEnx-2B engines, a new wing design and an enlarged upper deck.
Sales to passenger airlines have not been strong, with a total of 51 orders logged for the 747-8 as of the end of June 2015 (of which 34 have been delivered). This has raised questions among analysts about the viability of four-engined airliners in commercial service, since twin-engined jets burn less fuel and require less maintenance. However, demand from freight carriers has proved stronger with 72 examples of the -8F model on order (58 of which have been delivered). At June’s Paris Air Show, Russian operator Volga-Dnepr signed a $7.4 billion agreement to buy up to 20 more of the aircraft.
Boeing recently announced plans to reduce production of the 747-8 family to just one per month starting in March 2016 (half the 2013 production rate). The manufacturer anticipates a longer-term recovery in demand if and when the air freight market rebounds. Since 2011, its engineers have stripped a total of 9,000 pounds from the aircraft’s weight in a bid to make it more competitive.
A few 747-8s already have been purchased for use by heads of state and other dignitaries, and completion centers have developed some unique modifications for these aircraft that could be incorporated into the new presidential bird. They include grand entryways, two-story ballrooms, a multi-story elevator that exits the belly of the airplane and extends down to the tarmac, and private sleeping lofts just below the roof of the aft fuselage. Chock full of James Bond whiz-bang features and resplendent in its presidential livery, the new Air Force One will be a powerful symbol of American pride.

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