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America’s New Air Force One Boeing 747s Have Been Delayed

With Boeing’s dispute with interiors contractor GDC Technics still ongoing, it was almost inevitable that the delivery of the new Air Force One 747s would be delayed. A senior General close to the project has said that the schedule is likely to shift, but that he is happy with the transparency Boeing has displayed throughout the process. The first 747-8 is due to arrive in 2024.

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The replacement Air Force One 747s are facing a delay. Photo: Boeing

Air Force One is confirmed to be delayed

A senior Air Force General has admitted this week that the new Air Force One will likely be delivered late. Issues with one of Boeing’s main contractors have thrown the project timeline into jeopardy, with the General calling the delays a ‘definite setback’.

As reported by Defense One following a McAleese & Associates virtual conference yesterday, Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, the Air Force military deputy for acquisition, commented,

“We’re going to obviously have to look at the schedule [and] we have to look at it pragmatically. Boeing is working hard, they’ve got another supplier identified, we’re going to transfer as much of the work on the interiors as possible.”

The project to convert a pair of 747-8s into aircraft worthy of the ‘flying White House’ tag is taking placed in San Antonio, Texas. GDC Technics, the company that was contracted to supply the highly bespoke interiors for the planes, has been alleged to have missed crucial deadlines.

This came to a head in early April when Boeing sued the contractor for the delays, which it said “have resulted in millions of dollars in damages to Boeing and threaten to jeopardize work that is of critical importance to the (U.S. Air Force) and the president of the United States.” At the time, Boeing believed it could still meet the deadline, despite the GDC delays.

Air Force One
The new VC-25Bs will replace the pair of 747s currently used for VIP transport. Photo: Getty Images

However, Richardson believes there will be a knock-on effect. Nevertheless, he doesn’t lay the blame with Boeing, and says the planemaker is keeping the Air Force well appraised of the situation. The latest from Boeing is that it is evaluating whether to undertake the interiors itself or to hire a new company. Richardson commented,

“We’ve already made a lot of decisions on the interior, but there’s a whole lot of work left to go. But I’m very confident in the transparency that Boeing has given us in terms of what happened and what they are doing to fix it.”

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Air Force One
GDC Technics was contracted to provide the bespoke interiors for the aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

An ongoing battle

The dispute between GDC Technics and Boeing continues to rage on. Just a couple of weeks after Boeing sued the company, GDC Technics countersued. It said that Boeing’s own mismanagement of the project was what had caused the delays, not the late delivery of its own work.

GDC alleged that Boeing had used it as a scapegoat, claiming that the planemaker had failed to pay it for work delivered. While both cases are ongoing, at the end of April, GDC filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. At the time, it said that its financial stress was due to Boeing holding up some $20 million in payments.

Regardless of the outcomes of the two cases, work on the 747-8s continues. Boeing’s San Antonio team are pressing ahead with other structural modifications on the two planes while a decision is made on the solution for the interior. The first plane is supposed to be delivered by the end of 2024.

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