Least surprising story of the day

WASHINGTON: The US military said yesterday that it has chosen Boeing’s 747-8 aircraft for a new fleet of Air Force One presidential planes, opting against an airliner made by Airbus.

Well now, that is a surprise.

22 thoughts on “Least surprising story of the day”

  1. “Airforce One” is just a call sign; it applies to whatever aircraft he is in. The VP flies in “Airforce Two”. There are two Boeing VC-25s. One plus a spare.

    In my days in the RAF the Royal Flight (now merged into 32 Squadron, primarily to hide the costs) had three BAe 146. Slightly less impressive than the Boeings, I fear.

  2. Didn’t Airbus pull out months ago anyway, for the obvious reason it wasn’t going to happen anyway? Why did they even bother looking at it?

  3. I think the shareholders of Airbus have every reason to be mighy hacked off if a single Euro has been spent preparing pitches to win this contract.

    The idea that the Americans would be liable to ground their President because they couldn’t source a bolt from Toulouse is clearly nuts.

  4. three BAe 146. Slightly less impressive than the Boeings

    Especially after having been used as air-taxis between Bastion, Kandahar and Kabul. Cramming 40-odd sweaty squaddies in body armour in for 6 flights per day didn’t do them much good.

    However, it was fun to have your rifle as cabin baggage.

  5. Surely he should set an example and fly economy because global warming? Using a 747 as, essentially, a private jet is the sort of thing usually reserved for middle eastern dictators.

  6. Just a theory, but perhaps the US needed a competing bid to satisfy some congressional regulations or something.

    So Airbus gets to bid on this contract and the quid pro quo will be along later.

  7. If you’re going to get flashy, have a B-1B instead – why not have a supersonic plane and bring back the SST?

  8. Shinsei>

    “I think the shareholders of Airbus have every reason to be mighy hacked off if a single Euro has been spent preparing pitches to win this contract.”

    Well, if it was spent with any expectation of winning the contract, certainly – but it’s easy to justify spending a small amount on going through the motions of bidding, given the favourable publicity they’ve got from it.

    Pretty much every report has more or less subtly made the point that the only reason to prefer the Boeing plane is that it’s made in the US – and while that is a significant factor for the POTUS, it’s not for airlines. You can’t buy publicity like that.

  9. In other news, bears shit in the woods, the Pope is a catholic, and the US government is determined to destroy BP.

  10. I can’t comment on the A380, having not yet been on it. But general consensus is, at least from the passenger POV, that Boeing has a slight edge with long-haul aircraft and Airbus has a big edge with short-haul aircraft.

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Can anyone imagine how delicious the shrieking from the usual chauvinist sources, both left and right, would have been if it had even been semi-seriously mooted that Airbus was in consideration?

    As an aside, if the shit did hit the fan and he needed to be airborne in a hurry, how long does it take from a cold start to get a 747 off the ground? 45 minutes? An hour? I know you can’t just trundle up and put your keys in the ignition.

  12. I can’t comment on the A380, having not yet been on it. But general consensus is, at least from the passenger POV, that Boeing has a slight edge with long-haul aircraft and Airbus has a big edge with short-haul aircraft.

    I thought it was the other way around, but can’t be sure. The A380 was good, though.

  13. BiG>

    Yes, but the 747 isn’t part of that. The A380 is overwhelmingly preferred in the VLJ market. Boeing’s competitor is the 787, which isn’t a VLJ.

  14. Bloke in Germany

    Orthodoxy is pretty much correct except for the A380, which is an absolute joy to travel in! I’ve flown it on a few carriers now, always down the back (which for one of them was up the front as premium goes upstairs); I now try and organise my flight times to ensure that I’m on an A380 wherever possible as it truly is a brilliant machine. The ambient noise is slightly less than wearing cheap noise reducing headphones on a B777 – and that, plus the lighting and space means that you come off the plane feeling 10 times better than you do off pretty much any other wide body after a 10 hour flight.

    I haven’t flown the B787 (or the B747-800) so can’t compare but if they are half as good then this latest generation of planes has had some magic liberally sprinkled throughout their engineering and design!

  15. I always seem to end up on A330/340 for long hauls. The difference between turning left and right seems more dependent on the airline than the aircraft. As for short-hauls, the Airbus gives each passenger about a centimetre more than 737, which is noticeable (possibly because I am odd and prefer the window).

  16. As an aside, if the shit did hit the fan and he needed to be airborne in a hurry, how long does it take from a cold start to get a 747 off the ground?

    In theory it would be a helicopter first until the 747 was ready. But which US President was it that embarrassed the Marines when it was being explained to him that the helicopter was available on a moment’s notice said “ok, pick me up now”? I can’t remember.

    In practice, it wouldn’t matter much. The US spent a lot of time thinking about this and implementing backup command structures so that a decapitation strike wouldn’t work during the Cold War.

    A 747 as a private jet *is* excessive, much like the 40 car motorcades that apparently are required to screw up traffic in any city the President happens to visit. He couldn’t cope with a small business jet like any normal CEO? But bear in mind that a lot of that space is given up to the traveling entourage of staff and press that comes with him.

  17. I don’t know whether I’m comparing the 777 and 787 or comparing BA with United, but the fifteen-hour London-Buenos Aires on a 777 was a good deal more comfortable than the ten-hour Houston-London on a 787.

    Though having LCDs integrated to darken the windows of the 787, instead of blinds, was quite a good piece of techno-bling.

  18. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Ltw: it isn’t just the 747 when he’s on a diplomatic trip. It’s the C5 Galaxy with the Blackhawks and limousines that trails along with it. His retinue is like one of the Mughal emperor’s. But even though National Command Authority is meant to survive a surprise attack, it’s still presumably considered desirable to keep the President alive. For a long-duration situation he’d be in a NEACP plane anyway rather than the VC-25. They’re at Offutt, so I imagine the scenario is: Marine One to Andrews while they’re getting the 747 ready, NEACP takes off from Nebraska, they meet at Wright-Patterson and he transfers. Would be interesting in a techno-thriller sort of way.

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