Donald Trump told aircraft manufacturer Boeing to cancel an order for a new Air Force One, saying the project is too costly, USA Today is reporting.
The Air Force has been working with Boeing to design and manufacture a new presidential aircraft to replace the two aging Boeing 747-200 craft that currently serve as the official aircraft of the President of the United States. Two new, state-of-the-art 747-8 planes are currently in development, with updated navigation, electronic, security and other features, expected to be available by fiscal year 2024. As of this writing, costs are expected to reach $3.2 billion, including $2 billion for research and development.
Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that the new Air Force One is going to cost $4 billion; it is not clear, as of this writing, how he arrived at that number.
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
Speaking shortly afterwards to reporters at Trump Tower, Trump explained further.
“The plane is totally out of control. It’s going to be over $4 billion for Air Force One program and I think it’s ridiculous. I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”
Officially, according to the White House website, whatever aircraft the president happens to be flying in is given the call signal “Air Force One.” So in the unlikely event that he was flying in, say, his buddy’s Cessna 172, that plane would be called “Air Force One” as long as he was in it. Similarly, when then-president George W. Bush famously landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln in a naval Lockheed S-3 Viking in 2003, according to the Nation, that aircraft was temporarily given the call sign “Navy One” (since it was a naval craft).
Unofficially and colloquially, however, “Air Force One” refers to the two Boeing aircraft that currently serve as the president’s official aircraft. Those two aircraft date back to 1990, during the George H.W. Bush administration. And they are beginning to show their age and are not cost-effective to operate.
Whether or not Trump can compel Boeing to cancel the order for the new Air Force One remains to be seen. Currently, as president-elect, he has no more political power than any other private citizen. He has, however, used his unofficial status as president-elect to negotiate a deal with Indiana manufacturer Carrier to keep some jobs in the United States, according to the New York Post. Once he’s inaugurated as president in January, he may yet lack the official authority to cancel the order.
This is not the first time Trump has publicly called out Boeing, according to Bloomberg. Back in February, at a rally in South Carolina, Trump chided the manufacturer for “building massive plants in China.” Similarly, in 2014, Trump twice posted tweets about his concerns regarding Boeing’s use of lithium-ion batteries in the 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Trump also owns a tiny interest in Boeing (tiny for a billionaire, that is). According to a financial disclosure filed during the campaign, Trump disclosed that he owned, at the time, Boeing stock worth between $50,001 and $100,000. It is not clear, as of this writing, whether Trump has divested himself of that stock.
As of this writing, neither Boeing nor the Air Force has publicly commented on Trump’s demands that Boeing cancel the new Air Force One order.
[Featured Image by Carsten Koall/Getty Images]