BBG Watch Media Commentary
Numerous other foreign media outlets have reported on Boeing 747-8 being picked by the Pentagon for the next Air Force One plane for U.S. presidents.
But there is no news report on this highly interesting U.S. story on taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA).
What prevents VOA from posting a U.S. news story which has generated a lot of interest abroad and became the most read news report on the Financial Times website?
“The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America and the office of the president of the United States,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James observed. This is true not only in the United States, but also — and perhaps especially — abroad.
The White House website article on Air Force One says:
“Air Force One is one of the most recognizable symbols of the presidency, spawning countless references not just in American culture but across the world. Emblazoned with the words ‘United States of America,’ the American flag, and the Seal of the President of the United States, it is an undeniable presence wherever it flies.” – The White House
Why Russia’s international news agency is capable of posting this story, but U.S. taxpayer-funded VOA is not?
CNN, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, NPR, Wall Street Journal and many other U.S. news websites had the story, as did Russia’s international radio and news agency SPUTNIK and news websites in many other countries, including Australia, Namibia, Lebanon, Germany, and Mexico.
All VOA had to do was to look up a report put out by Air Force News Service, check the White House website article on Air Force One, find some photos and a video, and may be talk to a U.S. aviation expert or a Pentagon official.
Judging by the high popularity of this story abroad and the requirements of the VOA Charter, it would have been the right thing to do for the Voice of America. U.S. President, U.S. Administration, U.S. Boeing 747, U.S. plane manufacturer, VOA Charter, worldwide interest — what else was needed?
VOA English News also apparently never reported online on Air China purchasing and receiving last September its first of seven 747-8s. VOA English News also apparently never reported on Air China’s new Boeing 747-8 aircraft first international flight on the Beijing-New York route on January 7, 2015. Our search of the VOA website did not find any reports.
Why not a report on Air China buying Boeing 747-8s?
VOA is charged with doing news. Would this not be a perfect opportunity to do a news story (a new Air Force One) that not only generates worldwide interest, but can also focus international attention on U.S. aviation industry? Don’t U.S. taxpayers and working Americans deserve something extra from the money they pay for U.S. international media outreach?
Is it too much to ask?
Air Force News Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 – Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, in coordination with Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, has determined the Boeing 747-8 will serve as the next presidential aircraft, commonly known as Air Force One, Air Force officials announced today.
“The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America and the office of the president of the United States,” James said. “The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States (that), when fully missionized, meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the president of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest.”
Meeting a Presidential Mission
Analyses of the capability requirements conclude a four-engine, wide-body aircraft is required to meet the needs of the Air Force One mission. Market research determined there are two four-engine platforms that could meet the requirements; the 747-8 manufactured by Boeing in the state of Washington, and the A380 manufactured by Airbus in Toulouse, France.
The decision, made official through a Determinations and Findings document, authorizes the commercial aircraft purchase by other than full and open competition. This decision, in conjunction with the notification of the Air Force’s intent to award a sole-source contract to Boeing for the modification of the 747-8, allows discussions with Boeing that will likely lead to a contract for the aircraft platform as well as the modifications necessary to missionize the aircraft.
Acquisition Strategy, Risk Reduction Work Remains
“This decision is not a contract award to procure 747-8 aircraft,” said Col. Amy McCain, the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program manager. “We still need to finalize the overall acquisition strategy and conduct risk-reduction activities with Boeing to inform the engineering and manufacturing development contract negotiations that will define the capabilities and cost.”
The Air Force wants to own enough of the technical baseline to permit competition for sustainment throughout the aircraft’s planned 30-year life cycle, officials said. Competition can keep costs down, spur innovation and provide options.
“We are committed to incorporating competition for sub-systems of the missionized aircraft as much as practicable, and will participate substantively in any competitions led by the prime contractor,” James said.
“The current fleet of VC-25 presidential aircraft has performed exceptionally well, a testament to the airmen who support, maintain and fly the aircraft,” James said. “Yet, it is time to upgrade. Parts obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources and increased down times for maintenance are existing challenges that will increase until a new aircraft is fielded.
“The Air Force provides the president with safe and reliable air transportation with high levels of security and communication capability as the alternate airborne White House,” she added. “This platform will meet the requirements necessary to provide that level of service for future presidents.”
The secretary made clear affordability will be a key element of the PAR program.
“The program will use multiple strategies, such as the use of proven technologies and commercially certified equipment, to ensure the program is as affordable as possible while still meeting mission requirements,” James said. “We will insist upon program affordability through cost conscious procurement practices.”
Air Force One
The White House
The President of the United States must be ready to travel anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. Fortunately, modern Presidents have access to a variety of transportation options — including flying aboard Air Force One.
Technically, Air Force One is used to describe any Air Force aircraft carrying the President — but since the middle of the 20th century, it has been standard practice to refer to specific planes that are equipped to transport the Commander-in-Chief. Today, this name refers to one of two highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft, which carry the tail codes 28000 and 29000. The Air Force designation for the aircraft is VC-25A.
Air Force One is one of the most recognizable symbols of the presidency, spawning countless references not just in American culture but across the world. Emblazoned with the words “United States of America,” the American flag, and the Seal of the President of the United States, it is an undeniable presence wherever it flies.
Capable of refueling midair, Air Force One has unlimited range and can carry the President wherever he needs to travel. The onboard electronics are hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse, and Air Force One is equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command center in the event of an attack on the United States.
Inside, the President and his travel companions enjoy 4,000 square feet of floor space on three levels, including an extensive suite for the President that features a large office, lavatory, and conference room. Air Force One includes a medical suite that can function as an operating room, and a doctor is permanently on board. The plane’s two food preparation galleys can feed 100 people at a time.
Air Force One also has quarters for those who accompany the President, including senior advisors, Secret Service officers, traveling press, and other guests. Several cargo planes typically fly ahead of Air Force One to provide the President with services needed in remote locations.
Air Force One is maintained and operated by the Presidential Airlift Group, part of the White House Military Office. The Airlift Group was founded in 1944 as the Presidential Pilot Office at the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. For the next 15 years, various propeller-driven aircraft served the President, until President Dwight D. Eisenhower flew to Europe aboard VC-137A, a Boeing 707 Stratoliner, in August 1959.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy became the first President to fly in a jet specifically built for presidential use – a modified Boeing 707. Over the years, several other jet aircraft have been used, with the first of the current aircraft being delivered in 1990 during the administration of President George H. W. Bush.