Air Force One selection could mean more jobs at Wright-Patt

The new four-engine, wide-body jets would replace two Air Force VC-25s, the current Air Force One aircraft based on the commercial airliner the 747-200B, which have been in service since the early 1990s.

The new 747s are set to join the presidential fleet in 2023, said Ed Gulick, an Air Force spokesman. The Air Force has budgeted $1.1 billion for the program between now and 2019.

The Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program office at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson will likely gain jobs as the program ramps up, base spokesman Daryl Mayer said. The office has 74 employees.

“This decision is not a contract award to procure the 747-8 aircraft,” Col. Amy McCain, PAR program manager, said in a statement. “We still need to finalize the overall acquisition strategy and conduct risk-reduction activities with Boeing to inform the engineering and manufacturing development contract negotiations that will define capabilities and cost.”

The Air Force searched for a four-engine, wide-bodied jet to replace the current fleet. The two candidates were the Everett, Wash.-built Boeing 747-8 and the Toulouse, France manufactured Airbus 380. The service selected the American-built plane without a formal competition between the two aerospace giants.

‘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 States,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in a statement, adding the Boeing 747-8 is the only U.S.-built aircraft that met the programs needs.

Boeing has a decades-long history assembling Air Force One planes. “We look forward to working with the Air Force and continuing to draw on our more than 50-year history of experience with this program,” the company said in a statement.