Passenger Aircraft being Reused through FAA regulations and Policies
B-737s, RJ85s, C-130s and other airplanes transition to Firefighting Tankers
Large Commercial Aircraft upgraded to Head of State aerial limousines
Recent stories have highlighted how aircraft can transition to other uses. From the utilitarian transformation of passenger aircraft to firefighting tankers for the US Forest Service to the upgrading of commercial aircraft to heads of state aerial vehicles, the process is covered by various FAA requirements– Supplemental Type Certificates (STC), Engineering Change Authorizations (EA), Engineering Change Orders (EO), Form 337 or other means.
The engineering requirements established by these regulatory requirements assures the safety of the changes airplanes while allowing the original design into their new uses. The firefighting alterations are clearly explained, but likely the engineering details are not going to be made public.
Next-Generation 3.0 contract
Today the U.S. Forest Service announced contract awards for five large exclusive (EU) use air tankers. Three companies received contracts — Erickson Aero Tanker for two tankers, Aero Flite for two, and Coulson for one.
The tankers operated by the companies include MD-87s by Erickson Aero Tanker and RJ85s by Aero Flite. Coulson flies C-130s and B737s but this contract is for Tanker 137, a B737. The estimated total value of the contracts is, Erickson Aero Tanker $70.5 M, Aero Flite $80.4 M, and Coulson $41.5 M.
The solicitation for the Next Generation 3.0 air tankers was first posted 494 days ago on November 19, 2018. There are approximately three seasons left for the six aircraft on the Next Gen 1.0 contract, so the Forest Service should begin today working on Next Gen 4.0.
These 5 large EU air tankers will be added to the existing fleet of 13 (see the chart below published March 11), to bring the total up to 18. Earlier the Forest Service said they would have “up to 18” on EU contract this year. There are 17 large air tankers left on call when needed (CWN) contracts that can be activated, but at hourly and daily rates much higher than those on EU. At the time of the CWN award in December some of those tankers only existed on paper.
Flying first class can be very luxurious. Flying in your own private jet is a whole other level of luxury though. But of these world leaders, their transport is a step up again. Many countries use their own private jets to move leaders around, but which are the best, most luxurious aircraft used by heads of state? Here’s our top five.
Air Force One is perhaps the most famous plane in the world. Photo: Getty Images
Prince Al-Waleed of Saudi Arabia is well-known for spending over $500 million on a mega Airbus A380 to be his private plane for state visits. The plane was effectively a five-star hotel with wings. Unfortunately, he had to sell the plane known as The Flying Palace and make do with an equally luxurious Boeing 747.
The Boeing can carry 100 passengers at a time and even has room for a throne. There is a huge dining table to host dinner parties on board as well as a lounge, private suites, and even a glass chandelier. While there is not much room for offices or meetings, the jet is none-the-less very impressive. And expensive.
Apparently, the original plan was to include a whirlpool, hot tub-style bath but this never materialized. Shame.
Germany’s Konrad Adenauer may be slightly less famous than its American equivalent, Air Force One, but the aircraft itself is no less luxurious. Carrying almost 150 passengers, the specially modified Airbus A340-313X VIP cost over $300 million to fit.
Clearly no expense was spared. There are luxurious bedrooms, suites, offices, lounges and even a sound-proof room. Although I’m not entirely sure what for. Not only did they go all out with the modern comforts, as per the true German style, but the aircraft is also super well organized. They found room for an extra fuel tank to take its range up to 13,500 km. The entire fleet of aircraft can be repurposed within a few days to be used as field hospitals in an emergency. That’s German efficiency for you.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was famously late arriving at a G8 summit in 2018 when her aircraft experienced technical difficulties. Photo: Getty Images
Costing an estimated $250million, the president of Kazakhstan has an entire fleet of modified Airbus planes at his disposal. The biggest and most luxurious are the Airbus A330-243 Prestige, the A320-214 CJ Prestige, and the A321-211 CJ.
The most commonly used of these is the Airbus A330-243 Prestige which carries 50 passengers and has a top speed of 1,053 kilometers per hour. With full 5-star onboard facilities including beds, offices, lounges and top tech, it’s no wonder it’s the president’s aircraft of choice. The plane is equipped with everything a hotel has but with the freedom of the skies. The president uses his Airbus for only the most important events such as the G20 summit.
Of course, no list of presidential planes would be complete without mentioning Air Force One. The Boeing VC-25 is actually a heavily modified 747-200B airliner. And while it may have the most famous call sign in the world, you may not know that Air Force One is actually not an aircraft.
President has ordered two new presidential aircraft for future US presidents costing $5 billion.
The president of the United States actually has two VC-25 aircraft at his command. The tail numbers are 28000 and 29000. However, an aircraft is only allowed to use the famous call sign when the president steps on board.
Each aircraft can fly a distance of 7,800 miles and can carry up to 70 passengers. Spread across two floors there is plenty of space to the president’s private suite complete with shower, an official office, a medial annex, a conference room, and a treadmill. There are also 87 phones on board as well as 19 televisions.
Some of the décor may be a little dated, but with two new aircraft on order to replace the planes, Air Force One may be about to get a lot fancier. Although apparently there are costing almost $5 billion to build!
If you like the sound of having your own private jet, now’s your chance. The aircraft designed and used by former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is for sale. The current president doesn’t believe the “world’s most expensive plane” fits with his government’s money-saving policies, which is fair enough.
If you do have some spare change lying around, it is rumored to be on the market for just $130 million. A great deal considering it apparently cost over $600 million to make. The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner comes with a lounge, a master bedroom with full en-suite facilities, several desks and a range of gadgets. There’s also a fireplace – which seems risky.
The Dreamliner can fly for over 10,000 miles at peak performance and can carry over 250 passengers. So, if you’re looking for a plane for you and 249 of your closest friends, the Mexican government is looking for a buyer, otherwise this beautiful aircraft will be repurposed.
 Coulson Aviation is the first in the world to modify Boeing 737s into Fireliners which utilize a new advanced delivery system specifically designed for this application, the RADS-XXL/2. To convert a 737 into a Fireliner takes over 43,000-man hours and includes the RADS-XXL/2 installation, avionics upgrades, full strip and re-paint, new interior, and 72 refurbished passenger seats. Once complete, the Fireliner is differentiated from all other next generation large airtankers by its ability to transport firefighters without re-configuration and to fly at maximum speeds and altitudes with a load of retardant and no restrictions.
“This firefighting repurposed Boeing 737 was designed, manufactured and had the installation of the tanking system done in house which is a testament to the creativity of our teams led by Britt Coulson,” said Wayne Coulson, CEO of Coulson Group. “…
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