Written by Ashton Snyder on
 June 21, 2024

New Air Force One Faces 2026 Rescheduling

According to Business Insider, Boeing and the US Air Force are encountering lengthy delays and ballooning costs on the Air Force One replacement project.

Boeing’s new 747-8i was initially planned for an earlier debut, but it will now take its maiden flight in March 2026, extending the timeline and hiking costs by $2 billion.

A contract struck in 2018 between Boeing and the Trump Administration for $3.9 billion is now experiencing substantial setbacks. The delays push back the first flight of the new 747-8i by 16 months.

Delays and Cost Overruns Put Pressure on Schedule

The latest projections estimate the first delivery of the aircraft by September 2026, with the second delivery expected by February 2027. However, the Air Force has allowed for a one-year buffer, potentially extending the final delivery to 2028.

An Air Force spokesperson disclosed that the system testing, initially planned for May 2024, will now be conducted in July 2025. Due to these delays, continued reliance on the current fleet could cost taxpayers an additional $390 million. The overall project expenses have surged to around $5.3 billion, influenced by the $2 billion overrun costs.

Unique Risks Acknowledgeable, Says Boeing CEO

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun admitted in a 2022 investor call that the company took on "a very unique set of risks that [Boeing] probably shouldn’t have taken." Calhoun emphasized Boeing's commitment to fulfilling the contract despite these challenges.

Boeing is solely responsible for these cost overruns due to a fixed-price deal with the Trump Administration. This financial pressure is exacerbated by an agreement that enhances the aircraft beyond its original capabilities.

Based on modified 747-8i planes initially intended for Transaero, the new VIP fleet will feature numerous advanced modifications to cater to presidential requirements.

Strain on Aging Aircraft Fleet

The present fleet, designated VC-25A and derived from the older 747 model, has been in service for over 30 years. These aircraft now face increasing maintenance challenges and parts obsolescence.

The Department of Defense highlighted these concerns in a report pointing out "capability gaps, rising maintenance costs, and parts obsolescence." This points to the urgency of updating the fleet. The report also notes that the new Boeing 747-8 aircraft will be extensively modified to ensure the President, staff, and guests receive secure, high-reliability transportation.

Advanced Modifications and Cost Implications

The enhancements include electrical power upgrades, dual auxiliary power units, military avionics, mission communication systems, enhanced security, self-defense systems, and autonomous operating systems.

These modifications aim to provide communication and security capabilities similar to those in the White House, contributing to project delays and cost increases. An Air Force spokesperson noted that Boeing is revising the schedule, with further updates expected this summer, possibly leading to an updated timeline.

In summary, the new Air Force One project is facing significant delays and cost overruns, pushing its first flight to March 2026. The aging VC-25A fleet continues to serve amidst growing maintenance issues, causing further financial strain. Boeing's commitment to updating the aircraft involves extensive modifications aimed at ensuring advanced communication and security features despite the financial and logistical hurdles encountered.

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About Ashton Snyder

Independent conservative news without a leftist agenda.
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