National Geographic was recently granted unprecedented access to the overhaul of two Boeing 747-8 airplanes that will become the new Air Force Ones — and they were good enough to share that information with us.
The initial plan for the two new planes began with the Obama administration, was altered under President Trump, and will go into service for President Biden.
While you may have known that the current Air Force Ones have been in service since 1990, here are some things you might not know about the president’s two new planes.
Perhaps the most significant upgrades will involve the communication and navigation systems, some of which are still in analog form. After completely gutting the planes, more than 1 million feet of wiring will be stripped and replaced.
These upgrades will not only ensure better connectivity, but enhance flight safety — meaning the flight crew will be reduced from four to two.
The new Air Force One will also be 18 feet longer and provide 5,000 more square feet of cabin space.
A 224-foot wingspan includes carbon fiber wing tips angled at 37.5 degrees to produce quicker takeoffs and landings, as well as to accommodate shorter landing strips.
Four GE engines will provide 17% more power and be able to hit Mach 1, making Air Force One the fastest passenger jet on the planet.
The new fleet will have a range of 8,800 miles, an increase of 1,000 miles, and consume 16% less fuel. Not bad for an aircraft weighing over 1 million pounds when fully stocked. It will also generate 30% less noise and be able to fly even if two of its engines fail.
Air Force One has is designed to withstand nuclear radiation, including EM-proof wiring. It’s also rumored to have missile defense systems that could include anything from decoy flares to specialized lasers. Nearly 70 cuts needed to be made in the new fuselages to accommodate these top-secret defense systems. Air Force One also has its own security team: the Ravens.
The work was done by Boeing at their “Big Texas” facility outside of San Antonio, the largest free-standing high-bay hanger in the world. After all the bells and whistles are added, the new planes will have to undergo two years of testing before being commissioned in 2024.