ALCON can relax their buy American bone re VC-25 RA

Los Angeles Times
January 29, 2009
Pg. C3

Airbus Won’t Bid To Build Air Force One

The firm cites business reasons, but some lawmakers balked at giving the job to a foreign firm.

By Peter Pae

The parent of European aircraft maker Airbus said Wednesday that it would not enter the competition to build a replacement for the president’s 747 Air Force One, a move that all but leaves Boeing Co. as the only potential bidder for the prestigious airplane contract.

The decision is likely to quell criticisms that began to mount in recent days, particularly from “buy American” proponents in Congress who have derided the possibility that a U.S. president could fly around in a European-designed airplane.

“Outsourcing Air Force One is not an option. It’s un-American,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) as he proposed legislation Monday prohibiting the awarding of the contract to a foreign firm. “Are we going to replace the American apple pie with crepes?”

This month the Pentagon took the first steps in replacing the world’s most photographed aircraft by requesting information from potential providers, including Airbus. Boeing and archrival Airbus are the only two companies capable of building an aircraft as large and sophisticated as that used by the U.S. president…

The prospects of an Airbus Air Force One, however, prompted heated debates over what really is made in America given that Boeing planes also have a significant number of parts made overseas.

A spokesman for the U.S. unit of Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. said the decision was based not on political considerations but on a business case that didn’t make sense.

the hypocrisy of it all. the incoming new presidential helos are assemled in america from european design. so to all the politicians out there, quit being hypocrites. so an european designed af1 assembled in mobile alabama shouldnt make a damn bit of difference.

Ahh…the real basis of the decision.

Now look at a subjective report in contrast to the biased LA Times report:
From Flightglobal

I hope the 747-800 replaces the current model. For whatever reason I just want the POTUS to travel with 4 engines. No particular reason, just because.

I’d rather the two most powerful engines in the “game”, which are on the super duper long range 777, if I were POTUS. but the 747 is cool too.

I think that 747 and 777 are to big. I have always thought that. could a 767 or new 787(if they ever get built.) do the job? would a smaller plane carry the amount people and crew a 47 or77 could? I am not privy to amount people on af1 crew and all the presidents people. anyone know? without shouting out national secrets :unamused:

It will be an aircraft with 4 engines. That’s it.

B777, B767, B787, A330, and any variants are out of the question.

If you check all previous Air Force (One,Two) aircrafts, they have all been 4-engine aircrafts, all the way back to Eisenhower and Truman.

Why? Redundancy. With all the mods they are going to make on the next aircraft, there is no way that they would want an aircraft carrying the POTUS down to one single engine. Range would be great, but it will be a redundant engined aircraft.

With the A380 withdrawn (and IMHO, would have been a great candidate), USAF has no choice but either the B744, or B747-8.


You are absolutely, unequivocally, correct BL.

and interestingly the Lockheed Jetstar owes itself to this .

The twin engine C-32 has routinely served as A1 or A2; also the Gulfstream that Clinton took to Pakistan was a twin.

I think one of the main reasons the 747 was picked was due to its size. If I recall correctly, the 777 wasn’t available yet or had just started service so it didn’t have a proven track record.

Where did Clinton’s trip on the Gulfstream to Pakistan originate? Was he flown overseas on the VC25 then used the Gulfstream to get to Pakistan?

I don’t know; see citations 16-18 at Wikipedia.

Hmm… Assuming that this unmarked Gulfstream wasn’t not USAF owned, and Air Force One was used by the other aircraft, either the Gulfstream had to use Executive One for the callsign, or the media screwed up. If the Gulfstream was USAF owned, then either the media screwed up, or various ATC screwed up, because you couldn’t have two different planes in the air with the same exact callsign.

Something fishy there…


The C-32 is only used on missions where the destination airport is unsuitable for the VC-25.

The Jetstar originally had 2 Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus engines. Lockheed couldn’t reach and agreement for licensing production of the engines in the U.S., so it had to substitute the less powerful P&W JT12. Air Force requirements had nothing to do with it.

It was underpowered per the USAF and so

Hill AFB Library Fact Sheet

When you guys mentioned the Gulfstream, it made me remember back during the early 90’s, I guess it must have been Clinton, was supposed to fly into SPI, but instead flew the 747 into STL and then flew the Gulfstream to SPI, thus being Air Force One.

First off…thanks for the interesting replies…they were a good read…

Next, I wanted to reply to some of the things said.

Globemaster: Way to call out the “hypocrisy” however, the political reality will unfortunately remain fueled by bombastic rhetoric, fear and ignorance. With that said, the “main” presidential acft is such an icon there is no way to avoid the emotions involved with seeing POTUS fly around in something not outwardly regarded as American, in spite of the business realities.

For the fans of the 74-8: A/O today, BA will have a difficult time pitching that acft due to some operational hurdles placed in its way

For the fans of a two-motor “main” presidential acft: There are some very real operational hurdles to overcome there as well…I wouldn’t hold my breath for a two engined “main” acft anytime soon.

With that said, the assertion that " all previous Air Force (One,Two) aircrafts [sic], they have all been 4-engine aircrafts, all the way back to Eisenhower and Truman…" is, as has been pointed out, flawed. However, aside from the numerous 2-engined presidential support acft currently in the inventory, the VC-6A and the U-4B were used long before the C-9, C-32 or C-37 or C-20 arrived on scene. CONUS use of 2-engined acft is not w/o precedent. Although important, destination is not the only LIMFAC considered when deciding which jet to use…

And finally, for mduell: neither of those callsigns were used…

Interesting. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that explanation. Everything I’ve ever seen or heard, including conversations with Lockheed pilots of the time, said that the licensing problem was the reason for the engine swap. Hmmmm

I have to be honest that I heard of this so long ago, that I thought I might have been talking out of my aft cargo after I posted it. I either saw it on a History/Military/Discovery Channel documentary, or it was mentioned at the USAF museum last time I was there. I am going there in 2 weeks and I will see if I can find any info on it when I’m there. In all reality there may be validity to both sides.

I would think that you might be right about it being a bit of both. Also it could have been that the Air Force wanted U.S. built engines, the license couldn’t be arranged, and there weren’t any U.S. built engines suitable for a 2 engine application.