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What Are The Features the US President's Air Force One Plane?

Updated on April 23, 2016
Air Force One over Mt Rushmore
Air Force One over Mt Rushmore | Source

As you may well know, Air Force One is the name given to the plane(s) that the President of the United States will use to fly around the world. It is perhaps one of the most iconic symbols of a Presidential visit.

The name is said to originate from 1953 when a plane carrying President Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the same airspace as a commercial airline flight using the same call sign. The clashing call sign name was 'Columbine II'. Therefore, it was decided that the President should have his own call sign for his fleet of planes to avoid any future incidents occurring.

Thus, Air Force one does not actually represent the name of any single plane. There are currently two Air Force One planes that are in operation for the President. These are two highly modified versions of the Boeing 747-200B. They are so customised that they have been given the name Boeing VC-25. There are currently only two of these planes in existence. Both being for the President.

However, there is currently a proposal to upgrade the Air Force One planes to the Boeing 747-8. This version is the largest in the 747 range and is said to be the longest passenger aircraft in the world at this present time.

What is so special about Air Force One?

What makes Air Force One so unique is the fact that it is completely customised to a point that you would not recognise the inside of the plane. Essentially, the Boeing VC25 is a completely stripped down 747-200B plane. The only thing similar with the original 747-200B is the outer shell and engine though.

It is said to be able to travel 10 000m higher than other commercial models of the 747-200B. It also has a lot more security than your standard commercial airline plane and is said to be a mobile 'command center' for the President.

It has both secure and unsecure telephone links so that the President can carry on with his daily business whilst in flight.

Interesting Facts About Air Force One

  • Air Force One is also known by the call sign 'Angel'.
  • It has a bedroom, shower and small gym for the President to use.
  • There are three entrances on board the plane. They each have retractable stairs so that the President doesn't run the risk of using a boarding platform that has been tampered with or rigged.
  • There is a doctor present on board Air Force One at all times.
  • The VC-25 is capable of flying 7,800 miles (12,600 km) in one fuel stop. That works out at about 1/3 of the way around the world. It also has airborne refueling capabilities meaning that it could be in the sky for a lot longer.
  • Each VC25-A costs around £325 000 000
  • The plane is also well-equipped with advanced avionics and can block the radar of enemies. The flares of the plane are capable of destroying missiles.

A Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental
A Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental | Source

What Will The Next Air Force One Planes Be Like?

In 2009, we saw the office of the President first speak about the next replacement aircraft that will be used for Air Force One. The initial choice was between the Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus A380. However, the final decision was made to stick with Boeing for their next model.

Boeing said that the new design would be quieter, more economical, and more environmentally friendly than previous versions of the 747. It will also be longer in size.

A key advantage the 747-8 has over the Airbus A380 is that it is much more fuel efficient. Boeing states that the 747-8 is more than 10 percent lighter per seat and is to consume 11 percent less fuel per passenger than the A380, translating into a trip-cost reduction of 21 percent and a seat-mile cost reduction of over 6 percent.

President Barack Obama meets with staff mid-flight aboard Air Force One
President Barack Obama meets with staff mid-flight aboard Air Force One | Source

What Don't We Know About Air Force One?

Due to the nature of its custom design, there is very little that we actually know about the specific design of Air Force One. For example, whilst we know that there are some kind of missile defense systems on board, the specific details about this have never been officially released.

The same goes for the communications on board the aircraft. We know that the entire top floor of Air Force One is used for communications equipment. What specifically is included in this is still a mystery though. It would make sense for the aircraft to use radar jamming technologies etc; we will never know exactly what.

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    • hubber8893 profile image

      Sourav Rana 19 months ago

      Well, definitely an information booster article about the POTUS plane. Really amazing features provided by the manufacturers.