Unless you have been living in a cave in the past few months, you already know that the US President-elect is accustomed to using Twitter for delivering important news. December 5 was no exception. In a tweet that seemed taken out from the playbook of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Donald Trump declared he wanted to cancel Boeing’s order for the new Air Force One.
The tweet was just part of other remarks about Boeing. The same day on an appearance at the Trump Tower he continued criticizing the US OEM, “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “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.”
It is important to note that Trump’s facts regarding Boeing’s Air Force One were somewhat deviated from the truth. The US$4 billion figure is by far out of the Pentagon’s US$2.7 billion budget allocated for the renewal of the Air Force One fleet.
Boeing did not hesitate to answer. On a company statement, the OEM informed that they were still in talks to determine the characteristics of the plane they are supposed to deliver.
The tweet and remarks at the Trump tower were coincidentally made after the Chicago Tribune published an article where Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s CEO, was quoted saying that the world’s “overarching themes (are) apprehension about free and fair trade.”
Boeing’s shares saw a 0.9 percent drop at the end of Monday, following the cancelling remarks made by Trump.
Should the order not be cancelled, Trump would not be able to use the plane unless he wins the reelection process of 2020, since the first plane is expected to be delivered until 2023, almost six years after the 30-year recommended lifespan of a Boeing plane is reached.
Trump and Boeing
Trump and Boeing go way back. The US President-elect used to boast the 757-200 he bought on 2011 to the media. On a Rolling Stone interview he even stated that his plane was bigger than the Air Force One (which is not true, the Air Force One is 70.7 meters long, while the 757-200 is just 54 meters long). The 757’s bedrooms, dining room, private guest room, entertainment system and 24-carat gold fixtures make it the 8th most expensive plane in the world.
Not only did he owned a Boeing plane, Trump was also a Boeing stakeholder, at least until June 2016, when he sold his participation on the OEM. As of May 15 2016, he had a participation worth between US$50,000 and US$100,000, and at an interview with Fox Business on August 2, he confirmed that he had sold his Boeing’s shares.
While Trump may have been proud of his luxurious Boeing 757-200, he did not show the same kind of love towards the actual OEM. On a campaign rally in February 2016, he criticized the company and warned it might move production to China. “Boeing just got a huge order from China, but in placing that order, China insisted that Boeing build a huge assembly facility there,” he said. “So what’s going to happen is, the Chinese are going to devaluate the hell out of their currency, and force Boeing to move its assembly operations there.” Then he continued, “everybody loves Boeing today, but talk to me about Boeing in five years. Unless I’m elected president, then you’ll be ok.”
These remarks were made in front of a South Carolina community, where Boeing employs more than 7,500 workers to manufacture the 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing 747-8, the stuff presidential planes are made off
There is a noble tradition of Boeing’s 747 being part of the Air Force One fleet. The current pair of 747s were delivered in 1990 and 1991, respectively. So in 2015, after 25 years of service, President Barack Obama commissioned Boeing to deliver the next 747 that will compose the new fleet in charge of flying the US President.
As a fun fact, the 747-8 model, which is intended to replace at least one of the current planes, can carry more than US$5 billion in solid gold bars.
While it is a new plane, its design is not radically different from its predecessors. Due to the secrecy that always surrounds the military, not much has been said about the technology that the new 747-8 will feature, only that it will have “global, enduring, survivable command and control capability.”
Even though the Air Force One is the plane best maintained in the world (it has thoroughly inspections before every trip), the fleet’s age is increasing maintenance downtimes. A condition that is only expected to increase over the years.
Should Trump want next US’ Presidents to have a plane available whenever they might need it, he should definitely cancel his own Twitter-order.
Sources: The Atlantic, Chicago Tribune, Rolling Stone, El Financiero, Boeing Media Center, Business Insider, The Post and Courier.