President-elect Donald Trump met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to discuss the Air Force One replacement programme. Muilenburg expressed that Boeing plans to leverage commercial certification practices in order to drive down production costs which is a similar commercial practice Boeing applied in regards to the US Air Force’s KC-46 tanker programme. The KC-46 tanker programme’s cost was increased as a result of that promise. Frank Kendall revealed to Flight Global in his final speech as the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics that the government could get a lower price for Air Force One by lowering the requirements.
In essence Air Force One is a militarized 747 and the biggest driver on the cost is the requirements and the modifications that are put on the plane. In the end the White House is the one that will make the call and the president’s direct involvement is the differentiator in the Air Force One recapitalization compared to the tanker replacement. Another factor is that Boeing is working with a much greater volume for the KC-46 programme needing to provide 179 Boeing KC-46 tankers by 2028 versus converting just two Boeing 747-8’s into the iconic presidential aircraft Air Force One.
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